Superheroes, space supreme at kid mart

'Einsteins' one of the 462 news shows at Mipcom Junior

CANNES – Underage superheroes and overachieving tots ruled Mipcom Junior over the weekend as the mart boasted 462 new shows, up nearly 30% on last year.

Total shows at the event that precedes Mipcom stood at 839, up 4%, while participants were up 6% to 689. Accredited companies rose 22% to 506.

Among new shows, attention-grabbers included Warner Bros Intl. TV Distribution’s “Ben Ten,” about a kid who can turn into 10 different aliens, and “Team Galaxy,” from “Totally Spies” producer Marathon, featuring teens who attend a high school for space marshals.

Disney’s “Little Einsteins,” aimed at tykes 2-5, was another hot title.

Marathon’s animation topper Vincent Chalvon-Demersay told Daily Variety, “When you look at what works with children, there is basically a handful of themes such as magic, superheroes, empowerment; and successful shows are a question of combining them in different ways.”

However, if kids’ tastes tend to remain the same, the mart is evolving.

More screenings

Screenings at Mipcom Junior skyrocketed this year. First-day numbers reached 20,583, up 193% on 2004. The change is due to organizer Reed Midem’s new digital screening room, which allows a roomful of buyers to sit at a computer and view as many titles as they wish; all can watch the same show at the same time.

“You miss out because in the old days, you could tell what your competitors were looking at by which cassettes were out,” said Karin Stjarne, commissioning editor at leading Swedish adcaster TV4. “But now, at a glance, you can see what is going to be on Jetix or on Cartoon Network.”

Like many buyers, Stjarne was looking for TV programs that would do more than just pull in the requisite number of viewers for their duration.

“I am trying to assess whether a show will be commercially successful,” said Stjarne, “but I’m also assessing its suitability for other platforms, on DVD, on our Web site, or for mobile phone business.”

‘Picme’ fits

A property that seemed to fit the bill was “Picme,” commissioned by Irish pubcaster RTE and already sold by distrib Monster Distributes to a number of broadcasters including Nickelodeon U.K. Animated show features a child whose face is replaced by a real kid’s mugshot sent in by viewers.

Ancillary revenues were also a major theme during Mipcom Junior’s conference program. On Saturday senior international execs addressed the topic “New Screen Horizons: Selling Kids Content Beyond the Tube,” while attendees Sunday got the lowdown on licensing kids programs and observed the event’s first licensing pitch to a panel of experts.

“Most producers still don’t think about licensing,” said jury member Ronnen Harary, founder of North American toy manufacturer Spin Master. The company has attended Mipcom Junior for five years and did its first deal at the mart in 2004 for “Word World,” a show that will air on PBS in 2007.

“We are here to try and secure rights at the earliest possible stage, when we might contribute to a property’s development,” he said.

In a parallel event, during the weekend Mipcom also hosted its first Telenovelas Screenings, featuring new and older fare from 13 telenovela distributors.

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