Marathon, eTF1 sign Internet pact

Pair pledge $1.8 mil on content

PARIS — French production and distribution giant Marathon and eTF1, the Internet arm of leading French web TF1, have signed a three year multimedia co-production deal.

Pact will see Marathon spend Euros 1.3 million ($1.8 million) a year on specially tailored new media content for three of its kids’ animation shows, “Totally Spies,” the new “Monster Buster Club” and a third, yet to be announced. eTF1 will be putting up about a third of the coin for the product destined for TFou.fr, its website for kids.

David Michel, Marathon’s animation topper, described the deal as “groundbreaking.”

“Until now producers and broadcasters have been squabbling over new media rights, but no one has come up with a model allowing both sides to benefit,” he said.

“At Marathon we think the best way forward is to carry on producing and selling content to our clients and financing it the same way as we’ve traditionally financed TV programs.”

Sums invested will enable Marathon to produce more sophisticated, elaborate content, with episodes specially made for Internet and mobile, Michel said.

“We can create a whole world around a brand, like Second Life,” the topper said.

Spearheading the new content production will be David Doro, Marathon’s new media division head.

Dominique Poussier, head of youth content at TF1 Group, said other similar deals are in the works, including one with a major U.S. player in kids’ TV that is likely to be inked soon after Mipcom.

“It’s the next stage in developing our site. We want to be able to offer richer tailor-made content.”

Tfou.fr is one of France’s leading kids’ websites, with 500,000 unique visitors a month, who spend an average of 35 minutes at the site.

In the U.K., the BBC announced last week that it will double investments in specially commissioned multi-platform content.