Company doubles investment in tyke programming

FremantleMedia is doubling investment in children’s and family fare following the success of tyke shows such as “My Babysitter’s a Vampire.”

“There is a real opportunity to build a business of genuine scale in kids across all the sub-genres, including preschool and tweens,” said CEO Tony Cohen at FremantleMedia’s Mipcom press breakfast Monday. “With consumer products and merchandising, we intend to drive business across the value chain.”

FremantleMedia has agreed to a deal with toy manufacturer Mattel for its action figure “Max Steel,” last tackled by TV a decade ago.

The action adventure, aimed at boys 6-11, will air as 26 half-hour episodes, and is due next fall. “Max Steel” is one of Mattel’s biggest sellers, although it’s not especially successful in the U.S.

“We have greenlit ‘Max Steel,’ but are looking for a broadcast partner,” said Sander Schwartz, prexy of kids and family entertainment at distrib arm FremantleMedia Enterprises.

“Our ambition is to become the world’s leading independent supplier of kids’ and family content.”

With a tough economy hitting tyke rights holders such as Entertainment Rights (now part of Classic Media), FremantleMedia senses an opportunity to beef up the kids biz.

Schwartz said, “There has been a lot of dislocation in this area … but the appetite for content remains strong.”Overall, Cohen said the last six months had been “challenging, but solid progress had been made.”

He highlighted the continued strong showing of FremantleMedia’s talent shows “The X Factor” and “Got Talent” globally, and more recent successes in drama such as “The Wedding Band,” sold to Turner in the U.S.

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