Steve Manley saw the potential of The Annoying Thing, secured the exclusive worldwide merchandising rights and set up AT Merchandise Limited.
Meanwhile, Paul Comben had realised that traditional TV and movie-based character merchandising companies lacked knowledge of the dynamic digital media sector. Subsequently, he set up a consultancy named Mobile Brands to bring together rights owners and interactive games publishers.
In April 2006, the two companies merged and AT New Media was established. The firm is a licensing agency uniquely specialising in the worldwide market for interactive content.
CEO Comben comments: “Simon joined at the point of merger and three divisions were established. AT Content (licence acquisitions), AT Brands (licensor representation) and AT Merchandise (merchandise licensing for properties made popular through new media).”
Content types covered include interactive games, screensavers, wallpapers, videos, animations, ringtones and greetings. Platforms include internet, games consoles, mobile phones, interactive digital television and MP3 players.
With all of these possible licensees under its belt and an impressive range of licences to boot, it’s no surprise that the last year has been fairly buoyant for the company.
Comben explains: “The last year has been busy and profitable and debt-free, which unlike many other companies makes us able to plan to emerge very strongly from the recession.”
Also key to AT New Media’s success is a strong pedigree of experience in the sectors among the management team. Comben has worked in licensing since 1990 and has experience working for licensees, licensors and licensing agents. Previous employers have included Universal Studios, World Wildlife Fund, Design Rights International, Activision and iPlay.
Steve Manley is a web savvy, sales and marketing professional, who came to licensing from the commercial lighting industry. His campaign for the Crazy Frog included 100+ licensees for 300+ products in over 40 countries.
Simon Kay joined the firm from licensing agency LMI. He has possibly brokered more licensing agreements between brand owners and interactive games publishers than anyone else outside the US, according to the firm.
Comben enthuses: “If any brand large or small has licensing potential for interactive games, Simon will make it happen.”
Examples of deals the firm has brokered and counts as success stories include Scholastic and Chorion’s Horrible Histories, licensed for PS2, Wii and handheld platforms, which is due for release later this month.
The Professional Darts Corporation has licensed the PDC World Darts Championship and Premier League Darts for PS2, and Wii. The property has been a "huge success for V1" and will be on Wii and V2 due for release later this month.
Going forward, the firm hopes to continue on much the same track. Comben explains: “Over the next year, our plan are to continue to be the unique licensing agency specialising in interactive media rights licensing, taking full advantage of the new opportunities arising from the market growth of interactive entertainment.”
In the coming months, the firm expects to make a major announcement about Lazytown for E3 and Licensing International Expo. DCD Media’s Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab is also under discussion for a deal with Wii and and Playstation Eye. And finally, Haynes Publishing’s automotive brand is under discussion for iPhone applications and Nintendo DS/DSi concepts.