'Pocoyo' mints 3 million downloads

MADRID — Animated “Pocoyo” is a big hit in Spain, boasting 3 million content downloads, mobisodes and a TV series.

The cuddly, dot-eyed toddler who experiments with a trumpet and cymbals is targeted at the under 4-year-old crowd, with hip moms in Madrid using “Pocoyo” as a baby pacifier.

And this could be just the beginning of the phenomenon.

Its creator, the Madrid-based Zinkia, launched a Pocoyo channel on Vodafone’s mobile TV service Vodafone Life TV! in July.

Co-produced by Blighty’s Granada for ITV’s kids service CITV, it airs Stateside on Discovery Hispanics. Pocoyo and friends bow their YouTube channel next month; a contest will drive user-generated content. Its console game, for Nintendo DS, enters production in November.

“Pocoyo” is an Internet success, boasting 3 million content downloads from Pocoyo’s website and 500,000 unique users on creator David Cantolla’s blog.

But window shopping is far more important than window rights when it comes to monetizing Pocoyo.

Its revenues derive overwhelmingly from merchandising, including DVDs, books and toys. According to Zinkia, it led the year’s first-half Spanish children’s DVD sales with 100,000-plus units sold, and took 40% of Spain’s felt toy market.

Skein’s first two seasons cost E12 million ($16.2 million); Zinkia “Pocoyo” revenues for 2007 in Spain alone will be $16.2 million-$18.9 million, says spokesman Alberto Gontan. He estimates worldwide sales at $135 million over the next three years.

So Zinkia sees free downloading as a marketing opportunity, not a copy threat.

“We can’t stop Internet downloading,” says Maria Doolan, managing director of brand and business development. “But it doesn’t have to be negative.”

Offered free-of-charge, “Po-coyo” sees 100,000 downloads some days. “It doesn’t hurt TV broadcasts; it promotes them,” she says.

Zinkia’s next concept, 3-D series “Mola noguru,” aimed at 4- to 7-year-olds, is in development. Framed as 52 11-minute episodes adapting traditional tales worldwide, it promises educational value, great graphics and funky tunes.

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