TV adaptations, reboots flood tyke toon bazaar

CANNES — Brands made much of the running at Mip Junior, the Cannes-set tyke toon mart, which wrapped Sunday.

Saban’s reboot of “Power Rangers,” with 40 new vfx-packed episodes in production, dominated billboards and even sidewalks, with Rangers-dressed figures cruising the Croisette.

The two-day event was flooded with TV adaptations and retools of established properties, including “The Little Prince,” the half-hour toon produced by Paris’ Method Animation and sold by PGS Ent., “Maya the Bee,” the Sketchers-funded animated-series and even Mattel’s “Polly Pocket.”

“Kids entertainment professionals are even more prone to licensing now because everyone is looking for ways to develop content across all platforms and media,” said Laurine Garaude, director of the TV division, Reed Midem, which is owned by Variety’s parent Reed Elsevier. “We’re seeing a greater demand for exchange between the sectors of TV, videogames, mobile, online, publishing, as well as toy manufacturers and retailers.”

Mip Junior attendance rose 7% with 630 companies at the mart.

The three most-watched programs at the video library were: “Mia and Me,” a girl-skewed fantasy toon from Italo powerhouse Rainbow and Netherlands’ Telescreen, “The New Adventures of Peter Pan,” a French-Indian co-prod between Method Animation and DQ Entertainment and “The Little Prince,” also produced by Method Animation. U.S. shows proved popular as there were three Yankee programs in the top 10: Warner Bros’ animated comedy “Mad,” Disney’s “Fish Hooks” and Animation Collective’s toon “Black Down,” which targets tweens.

But insiders across the board agree the post-recession environment for kids’ programs seems even more competitive and its markets fragmented.

“While the volume of production has gone up with the skyrocketing number of digital terrestrial TV channels and other niche outlets, terrestrial channels are now concentrating on fewer but bigger shows to make an impact,” said Philippe Soutter, co-founder of PGS, which handles international sales on “Iron Man” and “Little Prince.”

Over at French pubcaster France Televisions, Julien Borde, the director of youth programming, said the net is “working more closely with (its) international sales branch, France Television Distribution, to work on brands and build franchises.”

France Television acquired for the first time the world rights of a show it’s co-producing : “Lulu Vroumette,” a pre-school show based on popular children book by Daniel Picouly and Frederic Pillot.

The pubcaster, with an acquisition budget of around $18 million, has inked its first deal with Nickelodeon, nabbing “Team UmiZumi” and “Bubble Guppies.”

“The kids market is bouncing back,” said Kevin Gillis, CEO of Canadian outfit Skywriter Media and Entertainment Group. “Broadcasters have exhausted reruns and need new content. But they’re still extremely cautious and prices have been dropping for the past two years,”

On the upside, however, Gillis said broadcasters are pumping up co-production in Canada and abroad and seeing more opportunities to form international partnerships.

One big reason for the climb in co-productions is that channels want to make a substantial investment, said Bilai Joa Silar, topper of Discovery Kids Latin America, which increased its co-prods by 20%.

“Co-production gives us access to more rights, and it allows us to work brands on multiple platforms and recoup,” she said.

In contrast, said Joa Silar, pre-sales can be very tricky in this market. “Shows move slower. We don’t want to run the risk of having our money tied up in shows that might end up stuck in development.”

Another reason for co-productions is editorial input, said Jules Borkent, Nickelodeon senior VP, global acquisitions and international programming. “We’re buying shows at an earlier stage to collaborate with creators.”

Every channel tries to carve its own identity and committing to shows early on gives them a chance to format the content for their specific audience, said Ken Faier, prexy of Nerd Corps Entertainment, producer of “League of Super Evil,” one of five finalists at Mip Jr.’s kids’ jury competition.

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