Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Nickelodeon International Greenlights New Animated Series 'Best & Bester'

Originally published: Tuesday, February 11, 2020


MIAMI—FEB. 11, 2020—Nickelodeon International has acquired pre-buy rights to animated comedy series Best & Bester, a new co-production between London-based studio Eye Present and Finnish studio Gigglebug Entertainment. The deal, announced today from Kidscreen Summit, includes creative editorial input and broadcast commitment from Nickelodeon International, as well as YLE, The Finnish Broadcasting Company, and development funding from Creative Europe, a cultural support program run by the European Union.

The 52 x 11-minute episode order focuses on Best & Bester, two best buddies obsessed with comparing the best things of all time while enjoying the power to transform themselves into anything they want, once a day.

“Best & Bester offer both the laughs and the smarts that we think will resonate with our audience,” said Layla Lewis, SVP Global Acquisitions and Content Partnerships, Nickelodeon. “We’re excited to welcome them to the Nick family and bring this comedic duo to our international screens.”

“We love the positive message of this show which is, at its heart, a celebration of diverse opinions and identities. Kids today live in a world that is full of possibilities, when you have a curious mind,” said Teija Rantala, Head of Children’s Programmes at YLE.

“This is great news, the Nickelodeon greenlight for the series now leads us to explore gaming and experiential content which is built into the core of the IP,” said Genevieve Dexter, CEO of Eye Present.

Creators Joonas Utti and Anttu Harlin are thrilled to have their latest creation signed with a global kids brand, following their credits on 101 Dalmatian Street and Gigglebug.

“We want to spread joy through animation. To make seriously silly stuff, with a purpose,” said Anttu Harlin, executive producer and co-founder of Gigglebug Entertainment.

About Gigglebug Entertainment

Gigglebug Entertainment is leading creator and producer of original kids content in the Nordics.

The company stands for Nordic playfulness. It’s an attitude. Taking our Nordic honesty, equality, creativity and high quality, and squeezing it all into the most constructive kids content on the planet.

In recent news, Gigglebug Entertainment is proud to have provided concept development for Disney's 101 Dalmatian Street TV series, as well as short form and digital content creation & production for the Disney property.

Previous to this, Gigglebug Entertainment’s track record includes the pre-school favourite Gigglebug - first launched as an app in 2013, with over 1 million downloads and #1 chart positions in 64 countries. The company’s flagship production Gigglebug is inspired by the emotional goals in the Finnish pre-school curriculum.

The studio is founded and managed by executive producer Anttu Harlin and creative director Joonas Utti. The company’s output includes TV series, games, shorts, gifs, & digital micro content. It’s original IP’s have been licensed to books, music, live events, messaging and other consumer products.

Gigglebug Entertainment was nominated as producer of the year at Cartoon Forum 2017.

About Eye Present

Eye Present is a London based 50 seat animation studio established in 2015 as a joint venture between Genevieve Dexter (founder of Serious Lunch and CAKE) and Squint/Opera, a large creative services company. Eye Present specializes in developing IP with unique provenance and has an unrivalled skill in raising finance for kids and family properties.

About Nickelodeon International

Nickelodeon, now in its 40th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The brand includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, location based experiences, publishing and feature films. Nickelodeon is one of the most globally recognized and widely distributed multimedia entertainment brands for kids and family, available in more than 500 million households across 170+ countries and territories, via more than 100+ locally programmed channels and branded blocks. Outside of the United States, Nickelodeon is part of ViacomCBS Networks International, a division of ViacomCBS Inc. (Nasdaq: VIACA, VIAC). For more information or artwork, visit Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of ViacomCBS Inc.


From Kidscreen:

In support of closing deals quickly

After watching several deals stumble earlier this year, Serious Lunch and Eye Present's Genevieve Dexter has learned an important lesson she wants the rest of the industry to know.

Most of the key moments for Eye Present Productions and Serious Lunch Distribution have been serendipitous—our content suddenly becoming very relevant to the big players.

The acquisition of Ronja the Robber’s Daughter by Amazon Prime coincided with the rise of serial storytelling on SVODs. Operation Ouch! grew with a surge in demand for STEM programming, and the series has since grown its reach on Netflix because of the recent call for educational content that could support home schooling. Best & Bester benefited from Nickelodeon International’s new drive to commission and co-develop more third-party content. Most recently, the BBC acquired three series, driven by specific needs for content that was relevant to British kids (Monty & Co) and the combined forces of COVID and Black Lives Matter (The New Legends of Monkey and Tik Tak). I am not going to retrofit a strategy—these were all moments of opportunity.

You have to catch the moment, especially now as the speed of interaction between new media players and the independent sector tends to be a very short window. Once you identify an opportunity, you need to act quickly in all aspects—especially contractually.

Producers may worry about setting a contractual precedent, but they have to analyze the probability of that type of deal still being around to repeat.

At Kidscreen Summit 2020, Eye Present took out Messy Goes to Okido 3 and Best & Bester (pictured) to find co-producers and close financing. One minute we were in Miami, and then poof! Our dreams appeared to melt away as all funding was frozen. Coming out the other side, thankfully most of the players are back at the table, but COVID-19 is just one extreme example of world events that are happening all the time without our knowledge.

There is a tendency in our industry to move to finalize contracts only once all the partners are in place, while pre-production is usually held until these agreements are firmed and signed. I would argue that working in a linear, rather than parallel fashion, is actually riskier. There exists the very real possibility that a deal will evaporate for reasons beyond your control—your key contacts move to new jobs, a trade war influences investments, a pandemic hits the global stage. While you wait for the contracts, the deal you’ve worked towards can vanish. I would urge moving to contract (or at least heads of terms) as soon as possible, with timelines,  goals and, if necessary, exit terms.

There are common causes for contractual delays. There is the broadcast acquisition phase—the most exciting and uncomfortable period prior to start of production. Ideally, you have sound co-development contracts in place that regulate these issues, but there are always grey areas. I would urge everyone to cut through the final stage minutiae. Don’t hold up contracts over small details, and celebrate that you are about to see your program on a major platform. In any complex co-production structure, you are going to make changes along the way, so build in flexibility in cashflow splits, contingency, underages and overages. Keep the energy positive; it’s got to last for the duration of the production. Learn to give in on a few percentage points here and there—it might even work in your favor in the long run.

There are some things that should never be rushed. It is rare that an independent producer or distributor has the power to enforce any finetuning of the standard terms and conditions—better to concentrate on the business terms and the budget to fulfill them. Do the terms leave you with enough rights to be able to complete financing? Are the exclusivity clauses so extreme as to wipe out your future income? These things cannot be ignored or glossed over.

You might be familiar with how other industries tackle deal-making, where M&A teams stay up all night to close if they have to. They don’t wait for that next meeting in Cannes to push the boat along a little further. If you are contracting with an organization much larger than your own, their response time will be slower than yours, so make sure you react quickly and in concert with your partners in a way that encourages your investor that you are proficient enough to fulfill the remit.

You may also be familiar with putting off a contract review for a quiet moment, and then prevarication paints you into a corner. If the contract is a game-changer, anticipate the avalanche of work and opportunity that it entails. I am making a case for haste, so get the financial and team support around you to give you the space—in other words, make sure you can afford to succeed quickly. And remember the ABCs: Always Be Closing.

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and should not be taken as legal advice.


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Originally published: Tuesday, February 11, 2020 AT 16:34 GMT.

Additional sources: Cartoon Brew, EP GRUPO.
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