Wow! The large toy companies are blurring the lines between toy and content! Mattel has bought out Hit Entertainment -the much loved home for Thomas the tank engine, Bob the builder, Barney etc. This is the second toy company that has shown serious effort at forging ties with content and broadcasters. First, Hasbro tied up with Discovery channel. This move was more of creating content around Hasbro’s top shows and making them multi dollar brands. Trivial pursuits, My little pony, GI Joe will all evolve into TV and digital content and find a home on Hasbro TV.
(more about Hit Entertainment…)
Mattel of course had significant success with Hit brands like Thomas, Bob and Barney and they will now leverage the popularity of the brands and make ancillary revenues outside of pure toys. I am keen to know how broadcasters react to this partnership. Our experience has been that every toy player (regardless of how engaging content is…) has needed to pay for placement. Some of the Japanese properties like Beyblade are an exception but whenever they know its a toy company creating content; they would demand their pound of flesh. This is now the norm. So broadcasters will make some more change whether on placement or via disguised incremental advertising spends. So, Hasbro in a way, safeguarded these struggles with their Discovery tie-up.
In India, pre-school content has no value as all broadcasters are driven by advertising monies. Since our Indian rating systems do not capture 0-4 year old’s; the broadcasters pretty much look at this as “dead inventory” and do not invest in these magnificent shows. A pity really! But then, all motivations are purely commercial. Who really cares what consumers want right?
Good luck to Hit and Mattel. Two remarkably cool companies. We of course represent Hit on the licensing business. Will we be HIT? Right now, we will put our heads down, work and show our METTLE!