Playhouse Disney picked up animated series after Licensing Challenge event

Kids’ nets grow globally | U.S. kid shows have firm hold overseas | Preschool programs cautious about 3D | Music-filled shows gain momentum worldwide | Long-running kids shows keep pace | Mip Junior was honey for ‘The Hive’

On Oct. 2, Mip Junior will announce the winner of its 2010 licensing challenge in Cannes, France. And if it goes anything like last year, the creators of highly marketable new youth programming could walk away with more than a few free tickets to upcoming Mip Junior events.

A competitor in 2009 got more than the winning prize when Playhouse Disney picked up “The Hive” for distribution on 150 territories worldwide in 2010. But interestingly, the timely CGI animated program about a troop of environmentally conscious bees, while a finalist, was not last year’s Mip Junior Challenge blue ribbon winner.

Formula Fun Entertainment’s “Franco and Formula Fun” was first at the finish line — including the thumbs-up from a jury of children in their target market — but while “Formula” walked away with the conference’s top prizes, “The Hive” has reaped huge rewards.

For Disney director of acquisitions Dominic Gardiner, “The Hive” was a slam-dunk.

“I was presented ‘The Hive’ at Mipcom by Bejuba! (Entertainment),” Gardiner says, “and it was obvious on that first viewing that ‘The Hive’ was a perfect fit for Playhouse Disney. It’s visually engaging, the bees are very cute and the themes of family and working together really complement our programming.”

Impressed with the show, Gardiner met with its production company, Lupus Films, to discuss the program. David Willing, who first conceived the show’s stories as bedtime tales for his sons, created the series, with Camila Deakin and Ruth Fielding producing.

Tatiana Kober, prexy of Bejuba! — which is distributing “The Hive” — thinks a lot of this success comes from the marketability of the show that was already in place at the time of the Mip Junior Challenge.

“I think ‘Formula Fun’ is already a great merchandising machine, and you can see where — in that licensing challenge — ‘Formula Fun’ would have an edge on the series. But I think what ‘The Hive’ has is a nice richness and very much a kid relatability, which is enormous. And it has a charming factor.”

And so, just three weeks before the 2010 winners of this year’s Licensing Challenge are announced, “The Hive” bowed its 78 seven-minute segments in the U.K. A United States arrival is expected for 2011.

Announcements are forthcoming regarding debuts in such markets such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Southeast Asia, Korea, Japan, India, Latin America, Scandinavia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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