×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

4Kids buys 4 hours from Fox Kids

Sat. ayem block fetches $25 mil.

Fox Kids has sold Saturday morning kids block to “Pokemon” producer 4Kids Entertainment, which will pony up $25.3 million a year to lease the net’s four-hour ayem time period.

In addition to mega-hit “Pokemon,” 4Kids produces the animated action skeins “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “Cubix,” both of which air on Kids’ WB.

A heated bidding war between 4Kids and DIC Entertainment helped drive up the price for the daypart to more than three times the $8 million that Discovery Communications agreed to pay NBC last month for its three-hour Saturday ayem block. In addition, by waiting until after the Peacock did its deal, Fox’s real estate became even more valuable to kiddie companies looking to get a guaranteed outlet for their programming.

Industry insiders believe 4Kids won out over DIC because of the former’s proven track record in creating new hit franchises, as well as its extensive relationships with Japanese kidvid suppliers. Since Fox’s stations will still be able to sell local ad time, the network apparently wanted to ensure that whoever landed the block could keep it successful.

As part of the four-year deal, Fox has retained the right to preempt programming in the block several times a year for baseball or other sports.

Nickelodeon, which had been in the running for both NBC’s and Fox’s blocks, bowed out after the bidding reached $15 million.

While 4Kids does TV, film, homevideo and music production, the Gotham-based firm has a heavy focus on licensing. In addition to “Pokemon,” “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “Cubix,” the publicly traded company also represents Nintendo and Cabbage Patch Kids.

In October, 4Kids signed a five-year pact with Pokemon USA to continue serving as the exclusive licensing agent and rep of TV broadcast and homevideo rights to “Pokemon” outside Asia. In addition, 4Kids acquired a 3% interest in the Pokemon Co.

The “Pokemon” franchise has grossed more than $10 billion worldwide since its introduction.

Because 4Kids produces action-packed animation series that doesn’t fulfill the FCC’s educational requirements for kids, it’s possible that they’ll sublet out an hour of the block to another tot programmer. The other three hours can consist of commercial programming.

Since “Pokemon,” “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “Cubix” air on Kids’ WB, it’s unclear what programming 4Kids plans to air on Fox. Company will be shopping new animated properties “Kinnikuman,” “Ultraman Tiga” and “Tama and Friends” at NATPE this week.

Fox’s Saturday ayem ratings have slipped in recent years as the net lost viewers to Kids’ WB, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Once News Corp. sold off Fox Family to Disney and returned its afternoon block of programming to affiliates, Fox — without a promotional partner that could help amortize programming costs — couldn’t make the daypart worth its while financially. It’s a stark change from the late 1990s, when “Power Rangers” helped Fox rule the broadcast kids audience.

Once the four-year term is up, 4Kids will be able to renew the deal for two more years.

(Josef Adalian in Hollywood contributed to this report.)

More TV

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA

    TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA West President, Dies at 91

    Prolific Emmy-nominated television writer Christopher Edwin Knopf, former president of the Writers Guild of America West, died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on Feb. 13. He was 91. Knopf was born in New York and attended UCLA, leaving during his senior year to join the Air Force during World War II. He finished [...]

  • Jussie Smollett The Black AIDS Insitute

    Jussie Smollett Case: Two Suspects Released Without Charges as New Evidence Emerges

    After two days of questioning, the Chicago Police Department announced Friday evening that it has released two suspects in the Jussie Smollett case without filing charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives had developed new information in the case. Police no longer consider the men to be suspects. “Due to new evidence as a [...]

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Showtime released a new trailer and the official poster for the upcoming fourth season of “Billions,” premiering March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

  • Ken Jeong TV Take Podcast

    Listen: Ken Jeong on His Return to Stand-Up and New Netflix Special

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Ken Jeong about his Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho,” and being a judge on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.“ Jeong started working on his new standup act after ABC canceled his show “Dr. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content