Canadian animation studio Nelvana Enterprises has inked a deal to distribute more than 4,400 episodes of its shows in Africa, in partnership with US company Blue Socks Media.
Shows covered by the agreement include animations Babar, Franklin, Ranger Rob, The Dog & Pony Show and Agent Binky: Pets of the Universe.
Neill Warren, Blue Socks’ exec VP of distribution of licensing , said the distributor had already lined up a handful of deals on the continent amid a growing demand for educational kids’ content. Six programme licensing deals have been agreed with unnamed local broadcasters in Africa, where the Nelvana series will start airing in Q4 of this year and Q1 2021.
Blue Socks plans to build on the success it has had selling its own content in the region and is confident it will be able to penetrate the market with Nelvana’s properties, Warren added.
“Africa is a giant and diverse continent with 54 countries, all of which have a different state-owned broadcaster with varying reach,” Warren said. “Sub-Saharan Africa alone has developed into a big market, with broadcasters expected to reach more than 75 million homes in the region by 2021.
“There’s a growing demand for locally made kids’ content, which has historically not been a big focus for broadcasters. This makes breaking into any single country with foreign shows difficult, though Blue Socks is hoping to replicate its own success for Nelvana.”
Blue Socks has previously sold its flagship musical series Raggs to South African broadcaster SABC 2, Mango Airlines and Namibia’s One Africa T.
“English-language content is accepted broadly, but to make the strongest impression, producers and distributors have to swallow the cost of dubbing,” Warren said.
“Languages can vary depending on the specific platform, but it’s useful to know that the majority of sub-Saharan African countries recognise English as a major language. This is an emerging market and deals can take longer, but more and more players, including Netflix, are here. And the need for kids’ content is only going to grow.”
Nelvana is owned by Canadian broadcast group Corus Entertainment.