SVP licensing and content sales, Ralf Kies, talks consumer products and further expansion into Italy.

How BabyTV moved from screen to shelf

Firstly, can you tell us the history behind the brand?

BabyTV was launched in 2003, becoming the first channel in the world dedicated to families with growing babies and toddlers. Today, BabyTV is the leading global baby and toddler network, reaching over 60 Million homes in 116 countries, and the creator and owner of a rich and diverse library of short-form content. The brand, which is recognised and loved by parents and children reaches families on multiple touchpoints including via its linear network, language channels, a popular on-demand offering, various mobile and digital offerings including video and games apps, broadband and inflight entertainment services.

How did the brand perform in 2013?

BabyTV continued to increase distribution in the last 12 months for its 24/7 commercial-free channel now speaking 18 languages. Some of the leading SVOD platforms and aggregators have also picked up BabyTV’s on-demand package, and British Airways and Singapore Airlines have come on board for inflight entertainment. We have licensed home video rights for more than 40 countries with our DVDs available at major retailers and signed our first agreement in China with Guangzhou Tianyi who launched 12 titles end of 2013. We have also agreed our first direct-to-retail collaboration with Latin American retailer La Polar and launched a large range of apparel and plush toys also end of 2013. Our licensee V&R Editoras launched 12 book titles across Latin America last year.

How many licensees does it have to date, and in which categories?

We first introduced BabyTV to retailers as a consumer products brand by offering a dedicated DVD package, taking advantage of the fact that all the unique content aired on the BabyTV channel is original programming owned by BabyTV 100 per cent. In the process we have signed up more than 20 home video licensees. Meanwhile we are managing approximately 40 licensees for home video, books, plush, toys, apparel, party articles, gifts and accessories and promotions. We are planning to launch another clothing range for small children with our second major apparel licensee, Apolo, later this year in Latin America.

What are some of the best performing products?

BabyTV’s nursery rhymes and children’s songs are doing very well across home video and on OTT/SVOD platforms. When we launched our Favourite Nursery Rhymes VOD offering on iTunes UK it quickly reached the No.2 spot in the top charts for kids TV programmes behind Peppa Pig. We have a more complete DVD title for sale on Amazon UK called My Favourite Nursery Rhymes Vol.1 that is our DVD bestseller. Additional titles of favourite characters like Charlie & The Numbers, and Billy Bambam, are bestsellers. Also our photo personalised books from Itsyourstory have been selling very well in the UK for a couple of years already and we have just renewed our agreement with the licensee.

Are you looking to expand the consumer products programme further this year – if so which categories are you targeting?

We think that party articles celebrating a child’s first, second or third birthday should become a product category that is performing strongly and we are actively seeking licensees for that. Our Facebook page is full of photos of families making BabyTV a part of their birthday celebrations with self-made cake decorations featuring their favourite BabyTV characters. Because of the wealth of artwork and IP available from BabyTV we are expanding our range of books further as our brand is perfectly suited for publishing products and other categories relevant to our very young target group. Other than that, like every kids brand, a master toy deal is very high on our priority list.

Do you have any special marketing initiatives or promotional activity planned for 2014?

For the first time this year we changed our programming schedule to incorporate a marketing initiative. This ‘programming stunt’ was to support Earth Day and featured a three-hour segment of specially selected shows each Saturday morning throughout April. We will base future campaigns around key programme launches. A top priority is a new series called Flip & Flash, a brand new game show style series. Our young viewers will be invited to join the show host, BabyTV’s channel mascot the Butterfly, and play fun games with flash cards and solve some tricky challenges.

What has the reaction from retail been like to the brand?

The fact that BabyTV is centrally managing all commercial rights has been recognised as a strong advantage by retailers. As we own all content, artwork and IP we can create a 360? brand package for a retailer that could possibly also include content for their website and in-store TV to allow for more engagement with the retailer’s customers. The unique artwork and IP available from BabyTV facilitates the creation of colourful in-store displays, FSDUs etc. We are very keen on building more in-depth relationships with a few retailers through direct-to-retail collaborations and we are very pleased to have La Polar on board as our first direct-to-retail partner and case study.

What would you most like to achieve with the brand by the end of 2014?

In addition to achieving more depth in our consumer products programme, we are actively working on building a retail presence in one of the major Western European markets. As a first step in that direction we have appointed Brand Oasi SRL as our licensing sales agent for Italy and have just signed up our first Italian licensee for a range of BabyTV accessories. Together with Brand Oasi SRL we are hoping to establish a portfolio of Italian licensees in relevant categories during 2014 for product launch in 2015. BabyTV is available on SKY Italia reaching a few million homes in Italy and we are building on that exposure as well as our unique positioning targeting families with small children.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

BabyTV is part of FOX International Channels (FIC), a business unit of 21st Century Fox. Through FIC’s many offices in North America, Latin America, EMEA and Asia Pacific we have the infrastructure in place to provide local support to our licensees and business partners across the globe.

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