Fully-Dedicated Channel to Deliver Family-Friendly Programming To Over 40 Territories Worldwide Sparrowhawk to Broadcast KidsCo with Content from Extensive Catalogs of DIC and Corus’ Nelvana
(London) Leading children’s media companies, Sparrowhawk Media, DIC Entertainment (DIC) and Corus Entertainment Inc.’s Nelvana Enterprises, have created a strategic joint venture to launch KidsCo, a multi-platform global television channel for children and families. The announcement was made today by David Hulbert, CEO, Sparrowhawk, Andy Heyward, Chairman and CEO, DIC and John Cassaday, President and CEO, Corus Entertainment Inc. KidsCo, a 24/7 multi-platform channel, will be committed to providing a responsible and entertaining environment for children and families around the world. The unique channel will begin rolling out in 2007 utilizing Sparrowhawk’s state-of-the-art broadcast distribution facility in the U.S. and the company’s international network of affiliates. Veteran media executive David Elstein serves as Chairman of Sparrowhawk, and Hulbert, former President of Walt Disney International Television, is part of the management team at Sparrowhawk that launched and managed the Disney channels worldwide and currently broadcasts the international Hallmark channels. The first launch of “KidsCo” is anticipated this Fall in Central and Eastern Europe with subsequent premieres throughout 2008 and 2009 in approximately 40 territories across Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.
KidsCo will feature renowned animated and live-action television series and feature-length movies from pre-eminent independent animation program suppliers, DIC and Nelvana. DIC’s programming library features over 3,000 half-hours of top quality series, including Inspector Gadget, Strawberry Shortcake, Madeline, Dennis the Menace, Care Bears and more. With more than 3,000 half-hours of kids’ programming, Nelvana Enterprises’ catalog features international favourites such as Babar, Franklin, The Adventures of Tintin and Rolie Polie Olie. KidsCo will acquire programming from other major children’s content suppliers, produce original properties to launch on the channel and will also feature prime-time family movies. KidsCo programming will be localized market-by-market and will be programmed by day-parts to create a strategic line-up targeting segmented audiences.
“This alliance draws on the collective expertise of the best in the business, and the libraries of our content partners contain some of the world’s most popular children’s programming,” said David Hulbert, Sparrowhawk Media’s Chief Executive. “The combined experience within the KidsCo organisation has enabled us to develop this concept based on an innovative business model from which we all benefit.” He adds, “Sparrowhawk’s global commercial and technical distribution networks manage the successful operation of the Hallmark Channel across more than 150 countries. It is this unique combination of assets that enable us to deliver KidsCo in an environment designed to reassure parents, at a price that platforms will find very refreshing.”
“As the children’s market continues to evolve it presents new challenges for program suppliers looking to find a home for their product,” stated Heyward. “The KidsCo collaboration allows Sparrowhawk, Corus and DIC to pioneer an innovative business model that allows us to own international broadcast real estate to showcase our existing catalogs, as well as launch new programming overseas.” He adds, “KidsCo offers the partners a unique opportunity to merge their combined strengths to create a truly dynamic international distribution platform.”
“This partnership reinforces the strength of Nelvana’s library in international markets,” said John Cassaday, President and CEO, Corus Entertainment Inc. “We are proud to be partnering with Sparrowhawk Media and DIC Entertainment to deliver on our shared mission of entertaining children and families around the globe. Sparrowhawk’s distribution expertise combined with Nelvana and DIC’s extensive libraries of parent-trusted programming will provide audiences with highly-entertaining, family-friendly experiences delivered in innovative ways.”
About Sparrowhawk Media: Sparrowhawk Media is a group of media companies operating television channel broadcast and program distribution businesses worldwide. The group is chaired by David Elstein with David Hulbert as Chief Executive. Backed by Providence Equity Partners and 3i, Sparrowhawk owns and broadcasts the international (non-US) versions of the Hallmark Channel, Movies 24 and KidsCo. The 18 feeds for the international Hallmark Channel air across 152 countries to more than 60 million subscribers in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Latin America and Asia. Movies 24 has recently launched on Sky and Virgin TV in the UK and will be rolled out internationally in the near future. Sparrowhawk also owns a state-of-the-art broadcast facility in Denver, Colorado, which provides transmission facilities for both the Sparrowhawk and third party channels operating as Sparrowhawk Broadcast Services. Sparrowhawk’s program distribution business owns the international rights to more than 580 miniseries/TV movie dramas in the Sparrowhawk Distribution Library (formerly the Crown Media/Hallmark Library) and also incorporates Sparrowhawk’s mobile video messaging business TxtBIG!
About DIC Entertainment: DIC Entertainment, a fully-integrated global brand management company, is dedicated to creating, developing, producing, distributing, marketing and merchandising family-based intellectual properties. The Company serves as the worldwide licensor for brands such as McDonald’s, Strawberry Shortcake, and Classic Trolls. DIC has become an industry leader in developing quality content for kids with an extensive library of over 3,000 half-hours of animated programming, including Horseland, Strawberry Shortcake, Liberty’s Kids, Madeline, Care Bears and Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? In 2006, DIC and AOL’s kids’ online destination KOL launched the new branded kids’ programming block, KOL’s Saturday Morning Secret Slumber Party for CBS. As a pre-eminent supplier of kids programming worldwide, DIC has developed strategic partnerships with key broadcast partners throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and Australia. DIC recently announced the acquisition of Copyright Promotions, a pan-European licensing agency that represents the licensing rights of a broad portfolio of world-renowned companies including DreamWorks Animation, MGM, Marvel, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Viacom and The Football Association. DIC is headquartered in Burbank, California with offices in New York, Paris and London.
About Corus Entertainment Inc. Corus Entertainment Inc., a Canadian-based media and entertainment company. Corus is a market leader in specialty television and radio with additional assets in pay television, advertising and digital audio services, television broadcasting, children’s book publishing and children’s animation. The company’s multimedia entertainment brands include YTV, Treehouse, W Network, Movie Central, Nelvana, Kids Can Press and radio stations including CKNW, CKOI and Q107. Corus creates engaging branded entertainment experiences for its audiences across multiple platforms. A publicly traded company, Corus is listed on the Toronto (CJR.B) and New York (CJR) exchanges. Experience Corus on the web at www.corusent.com.
Michelle Orsi Three.Sixty Communications (for DIC) Tel: 310.372.2309 Mobile: 310.418.6430
Diana Pitt Corus Entertainment Tel: 416.530.2801 Mobile: 416.722.5099
Jane Muirhead Sparrowhawk Media Tel: +44 (0) 207 368 9136 Mobile: +44 (0) 7768 394487