The Role of Publishing in The TV Animation Business.

Author:Santini, Gabriella
Position:Kids' Television

One aspect often ignored during the conference portion of television trade shows aimed at kids--such as MIP Junior--is the role of publishing in the children's TV animation sector. This is despite the fact that it is a business estimated to have generated $2 billion in the U.S. alone in 2017 (down from $3.4 billion in 2012). It is also an important element of the success of children's TV production, international content sales, and programming.

When an animated TV cartoon is born, it--like any newborn--has already been saddled with a multitude of expectations, both for its success, as well as its possible failure. And in spite of the efforts of the professionals who work in the animation business, the support from sociological and marketing analysts, and the reports from focus groups, its destiny is often difficult to foresee.

It doesn't really seem to matter how much attention is given to it by its parents (i.e., the producers), or by the many talented names associated with the production--in addition to a host of economic investments. Its success depends on a myriad other factors, none of which are secondary.

Among these factors are publishing and merchandising rights--two strategic segments that give a big boost to any cartoon by reinforcing the brand, which helps in selling the program to international TV outlets (including broadcast, cable, and digital), and securing viewer loyalty.

Publishing encompasses the publication (in print and/or multimedia) of books, magazines, comics, as well as other items, such as collectors' trading cards and stickers.

It was through publishing that a fundamental market rule for the animation business emerged --that lines of merchandising are more valuable than a single product. In fact, an entire line of products ensures great consumer sales (especially if connected to a successful television show), in addition to promoting the show and its associated consumer products.

In publishing, the growing impact of television is a big factor. While the theatrical sector is well defined, television offers multiple IP rights, including a variety of VoD models. Overall, distribution platforms are constantly multiplying: Cinema, TV, web, mobile, etc., with broadcasters forever on the lookout for "sure bets." In this environment, the contribution of publishing to the success of a cartoon could be decisive.

Now, how can publishing influence the success of a series? How much should publishing do? And when and how should...

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