6 FEB 2024

KIDSCREEN HOT50: Who are the most-voted distributors?

In 2024, the traditional ranking includes 9 Story Distribution International, CAKE, Jetpack Distribution, Sinking Ship Entertainment, WildBrain, Sesame Workshop, Aardman Animations, Banijay Kids & Family, Guru Studio, and Australian Children's Television Foundation.

6 FEB 2024

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Early this year, Kidscreen unveiled its traditional Kidscreen Hot50 ranking, where the industry voted the top 50 kids entertainment companies of 2023 in broadcasting, production, distribution, licensing, and digital media. The top 10 distributors selected for this rating are 9 Story Distribution International, CAKE, Jetpack Distribution, Sinking Ship Entertainment, WildBrain, Sesame Workshop, Aardman Animations, Banijay Kids & Family, Guru Studio, and Australian Children's Television Foundation. Señal News talked with these companies about this relevant industry's outstanding recognition. "Being recognized by our industry peers as one of the top-ranking distributors is a great honor. We are a small team, who constantly strive for success, and so to be placed in the top 10 again means so much to the team and the wider studio," Alison Taylor, Director of Distribution at Aardman, stated.

"It's wonderful to be recognized by the industry for our distribution achievements over the last year. The team works incredibly hard, and despite a challenging year, we have secured significant international sales for our shows and brought in some fantastic third-party IP to complement our ever-growing catalog," Delphine Dumont, Chief Commercial Officer at Banijay Kids & Family, mentioned.

"We are hugely honored to be ranked second in the distribution category in the Kidscreen Hot 50. During the uncertain and challenging times that our industry is currently facing, we value the support and recognition of our peers now more than ever. It is a privilege to work with our partners, clients, and talented producers on exciting projects, and we look forward to continuing to deliver high-quality content to children and families worldwide," said Ed Galton, CEO of CAKE.

"We have been selected in the ranking due to our strong, diverse, and well-curated catalog. We are a one-stop shop for broadcasters and platforms. We implement well-designed and content-specific strategies in close collaboration with our partners while still remaining as friendly, flexible, and boutique as ever," added Rebecca Lugo, Head of Global Sales at Jetpack Distribution.

"It was an honor to be chosen by our peers for the Kidscreen Hot50 rankings. I think the distribution efforts at the company have become known for adapting and finding new avenues for reaching audiences. We are also lucky enough to represent exceptional children's content internationally, which has been hits with many buyers. In 2023, we sold 475 hours of programming to 40+ countries, and that success has a direct line to our ranking on Hot50," said Kate Sanagan, Head of Sales and Distribution at Sinking Ship Entertainment.

"We were thrilled to place #1 on the Kidscreen Hot50. It has been our fourth time in the top spot within the last six years! It's a testament to our fantastic kids and family content and the strength of our global team," added Joss Duffield, VP Distribution at 9 Story Media Group.

As many companies mentioned, 2023 was a challenging year for sales agents and distributors. Production and commission budgets are shrinking, and companies must create diverse strategies to keep their business. Even with this landscape, Aardman licensed its CGI series, "Lloyd of the Flies," as an Original to Tubi in the US. "A first for Aardman with the platform," commented Taylor. The company also acquired the new pre-school shows "Ready Eddie Go" by Hocus Pocus, an Original commission from Sky Kids, "Yukee" by Score Draw Music, and "Mitten and Shoe" created by Matinai (both Cbeebies) for global distribution.

Furthermore, Banijay Kids & Family landed major distribution deals across its portfolio for brands like pre-school animation "Mumfie," the original CGI comedy "Shasha & Milo," the family sci-fi drama "Silverpoint" and the charming 2D animated adventure "Topo Gigio." In addition, the distributor expanded its catalog, securing distribution rights to some of the most vital third-party shows in the kid's sector, from the iconic "Moominvalley" to Tiger Aspect Kids & Family's "Charlie and Lola" and "The Game Catchers" from Studio Bozzetto and Sphere Media. "As we head into 2024, we have a healthy pipeline of shows coming through from the production labels under the Banijay Kids & Family umbrella. 'Super Happy Magic Forest,' a co-production from Tiger Aspect Kids & Family, with Movimenti Production, Zodiak Kids & Family France, and 'Monello,' will be one to watch out for. Plus, we have several new projects to be unveiled," anticipated Dumont.

During 2023, Cake reached a deal with Netflix in the US for the "Total Drama" franchise; YouTube hit "Lucas The Spider" with Netflix, and a fourth season of stop motion series "Kiri and Lou" with Nickelodeon, as well as a second season of multi-award winning "Mush-Mush & The Mushables" with Warner Bros. Discovery EMEA. "With the market shifting and with more challenges than ever before, we focus on looking for distribution opportunities in new spaces as well as building our slate of development titles and pushing these into production," affirmed Galton. Last year, 9 Story Media Group acquired seven series and navigated the industry downturn by focusing on AVOD, launching 1700 half-hours of new content across multiple platforms. "We also had strong success on our BBC and BYUTV commissioned live-action series 'A Kind of Spark,' with sales to ABC Australia, France Télévisions, CBC Kids, RTÉ (Ireland), NRK (Norway), YLE (Finland), SVT (Sweden), TVNZ (New Zealand) and TFO (French-speaking Canada). Our animated pre-school series' Lu and the Bally Bunch' premiered in 2023 on Cartoonito (UK and Latam) and CBC Kids (Canada)and was also just launched on Cbeebies," described Duffield.

For Jetpack, a significant 2023 highlight was providing content like "Jamie's Got Tentacles," "Wussywat," and "Talking Tom and Friends" for the newly launched channel Moochi in the UK. "It's always nice to be thought of and be part of something new," stated Lugo. The company has also closed a deal with the new Dreamworks channel in the Netherlands, which included the titles "Boj," "Clangers," and "Buck and Buddy." "Covering Latin America, North America, and the Middle East, we completed a deal with Vubiquity for 'The Clangers', 'The Cul de Sac,' 'Talking Tom and Friends,' 'Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed,' 'Jamie's Got Tentacles,' and 'Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty'" Luego added. Some other Jetpack deals were with Rai in Italy, ABC in Australia, DR in Denmark, and NPO in the Netherlands, which included the titles "Clangers," "DreaMars," "Katy," "Cardboard City," "Piney," and "Biff and Chip." "This year, we are working towards commissioning our development titles and to further our AVOD strategy, making our content available before the paywall for kids everywhere," she concluded.

2023 saw the launch of Sinking Ship's highly-anticipated series "Jane" on Apple TV+ with companion museum exhibits at the California Science Center and Carnegie Museum of Natural History, along with a red carpet premiere with Jane Goodall in attendance. School drama series "Phoenix Rise" was selected as 2022 Mipcom Junior's World Premiere and landed immediate sales for the series within weeks of the premiere, including ABC (Australia), YLE (Finland), and NRK Norway). "Our dinosaur franchise 'Dino Dana' was sold to NHK in Japan and YouKu in China, thanks to our agent Bomanbridge Media in Asia. In 2024, we will focus on expanding our key brands internationally while also looking for new programs that fit into our niche of 6 – 9," said Sanagan.

Aardman is going to Kidscreen to meet with commissioners on a new pre-school series. "We're also keen to attend as many sessions as we can between us so we can take any insights back to Bristol to put into action," confirmed Taylor. Banijay Kids & Family highlights for Kidscreen include its new, original series "Shasha & Milo," which is gathering pace internationally, with several launches under its belt. "We have four seasons of Gutsy Animations' hit animated family drama series 'Moominvalley,' and two seasons of the captivating sci-fi drama 'Silverpoint,'" Dumont stated. "There is also a fascinating project coming up from Movimenti Production and Zodiak Kids & Family France, which we can't wait to share with our buyers," she added.

Cake highlights for Kidscreen are "The Guava Juice Show," produced by Mainframe Studios and Studio 71 and is based on the hit Guava Juice YouTube channel, and live-action school-based comedy "So Awkward Academy," with seven seasons on CBBC, and four-time BAFTA winner, produced by Channel X. "We will also be presenting live-action sci-fi adventure series 'Armorsaurs,' produced by MGA and Daewon Media. Showcasing exciting CGI animation and live-action/VFX with a storyline to appeal to global audiences, the new 'Armorsaurs' series is projected to premiere globally in 2025," asserted Galton.

Jetpack Distribution is bringing "Talking Tom Heroes Suddenly Super," the live-action comedy series "Kids on the Block," the live-action and sci-fi aimed at audiences 10+ "Snow Black," and the show aimed at kids aged 6-12 years "The Yes Experiment." In addition, Sinking Ship Enertainment's new series "Wordsville and Media Stamped" is currently in production and set for release in 2024, along with the first season of "Dino Dex," the third installment in the Dino Franchise series, and Odd Squad UK, the all-new format of "Odd Squad." "We are excited to attend the Kidscreen Summit in San Diego, and our team will be there in full force to meet with clients about new shows in development, new series, and new seasons on existing shows. We will unveil a sneak peek of 'A Kind of Spark' second season, along with some of our new productions like 'Open Season' and 'Dylan's Playtime Adventures," said Duffield from 9 Story Media Group.

By Romina Rodriguez