The launch of the dedicated 24/7 KidsCo channel in South Korea, Singapore and Palau on March 20, following its January lift-off in the Philippines, marked another key step towards the corporate objective of expanding to 40—plus territories by end-2008. Aiding that global push is NBC Universal, which became a partner after acquiring Sparrowhawk Media in October 2007, joining original investors DIC Entertainment and Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana Enterprises. “We have an ambitious and aggressive roll out strategy for KidsCo which NBCU have embraced with open arms and we are now sister channels with the likes of SCI FI and Hallmark Channel,” says KidsCo Managing Director Paul Robinson. “We have the benefit of now being part of a bigger family. NBCU has extensive resources and enviable expertise which KidsCo is now able to tap into,” adds Robinson, who works closely with Raymund Miranda, the recently appointed MD of NBCU Global Networks in Asia. Miranda, a former colleague of Robinson when they both served at Walt Disney Television, is well acquainted with the children’s entertainment business. The channel utilizes NBCU’s broadcast distribution facility in the US and the company’s international network of affiliates. KidsCo secured carriage on leading platforms in Asia: SingTel’s mio service in Singapore; Korea’s Hana TV; SkyCable in the Philippines; and Palau’s PNCC. In addition, executives signed a deal with the Philippines’ Cable Boss to act as the channel’s distributor in that market. It had a soft launch in the Philippines in January; the satellite feed was switched on there and in the other three territories on March 20. The channel describes itself as a TV adventure playground interacting with audiences 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering a mix of animated and live-action TV series and feature-length movies from DIC, Nelvana, Entertainment Rights, TV-Loonland, Decode, Porchlight and sundry other suppliers. The programming is being localized market-by-market and is scheduled by day-parts to target segmented audiences. Signature shows include Sabrina, Sonic The Hedgehog, Dance Revolution, Rescue Heroes, 6 Teen, Madeline, Babar, Inspector Gadget, Angela Anaconda, Dennis the Menace and Max and Ruby. Designed to fit in with audience availability and lifestyles, there are three different programming zones: the self-explanatory Pre-School Zone; Kids Zone (for ages 6-10) and the Family Zone (for everyone). To further its localization strategy, the firm has closed a content supply deal with Iconix, a South Korean animation company, whose stable of CGI shows includes Poporo. Robinson has flagged an intention to become involved in co-productions in the region, noting “We are interested in hearing from potential co-production partners in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia.” The KidsCo website is now live in all its targeted territories, including those in Asia. “Our strategy is to add tailored versions to the program schedule and, where appropriate, local language versions ahead of the launch of the KidsCo TV channel,” Robinson explains. Convinced that SVOD and VOD will soon become significant revenue streams for children’s content, Robinson says KidsCo is in negotiations with several major Asian and European platforms that see children’s non-linear services as an important component of their growth strategy. The management team includes former Discovery and Nickelodeon executive Sarah Wookey as Director of Broadcast, with another Nickelodeon alumni, Louise Butt, as Marketing Manager. Offering an overview on the kids business, Robinson says: “There is generally a trend in kids animation back to traditional 2D cell. A while ago all the studios were converting to CGI but the advent of technology allowing animators to draw on tablets at their desks and the realization that sometimes CGI can be a bit clinical or cold has caused a resurgence in 2D cell. “The Hollywood studios and the independent content creators are turning out some terrific shows.”