Bizzers look to widen rev streams

CANNES — Digital opportunities were the talk of the MipJunior confab, with top-level U.S. and international players discussing new production models, cross-platform branding and revenue streams at the weekend tyke mart.

Kids are inhaling content right now; the key is understanding how they are using technology and being there with them, said Stuart Snyder, topper of Turner’s Animation, Young Adults and Kids division, during his keynote speech.

“I don’t think everything has to be created as a show; things can be started as shorts, games or apps.”

The exec said Cartoon Network, celebrating its 20th anniversary, was developing original content for the Web and mobile.

Saban Brands prexy Elie Dekel talked about developing an app based on “My Pet Monsters,” which was popular in the late 1980s as a toy, toon and film. “If all goes well, we’ll extend it to new formats.”

Added Dekel, “Mobile content is quicker to market, it’s not as expensive to test and produce, and it has a business model that, if successful, can be very compelling.”

Nickelodeon has also been thinking outside the TV box.

“Our content comes from different places today,” said Jules Borkent, senior VP of global acquisitions and intl. programming at Nickelodeon, citing “Fred: The Movie,” inspired by the YouTube series about Fred Figglehorn.

In Europe, leading broadcasters including DR in Denmark or Super RTL in Germany, have been transforming their channels into multi-platform brands.

But execs across the board agree this cross-media strategy is still marketing-driven, rather than advertising-driven.

“So far only 5% of our advertising revenue comes from digital. The biggest chunk still comes from linear television,” said Claude Schmit, CEO of Super RTL, which is owned by RTL and Disney, and ranks as Germany’s most popular children’s channel.

Bolstered by its new Digital Kids conference program, MipJunior pulled record attendance. More than 570 buyers and 1,166 participants (100 up on 2011) turned up at the mart, which wrapped Sunday.

“MipJunior’s success reflects the international appetite for youth programming across all screens,” said Laurine Garaude, head of Reed Midem’s TV division.

Garaude said two highlights were the Canadian Screenings looking at Canuck digital creativity and the MipJunior international pitch, a new competition for the next multiplatform brand, won by Colombian producer 4Direcciones Audiovisual’s “Ooommm-Mmmooo, Yoga for Children.”

Meanwhile, animated shows sparked more buyer interest than live-action programming, with toon skeins taking eight slots out of the top 10 most-watched shows. The top three were Maravista’s pre-school show “Julius Jr.,” FremantleMedia’s live-action sci-fi skein “Alien Dawn” and another pre-school title “Boy and the Dinosaur” from Foothill.

Yet broadcasters still have an appetite for live-action shows, said Lagardere Entertainment Rights head Emmanuelle Bouilhaguet. She unveiled a promo of live-action skein “Which Is Witch” produced by Lagardere’s Genao banner. “Although the live-action market has traditionally been dominated by U.S. networks like Disney and Nickelodeon, there’s room for independent producers.”

Like others at the market, Bouilhaguet said she had felt the impact of the recession on dealmaking.

She added, “Prices are falling and it’s become very difficult to close deals in some territories like Spain and Italy, which is why having a high-end franchise-based property like ‘Xiaolin Chronicles’ on our slate is more than ever essential.”

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