“Majors have finalized their strategies, which helps us tailor our offering to their needs”

Mellany Masterson, director of Nelvana Enterprises, spoke to ttvnews about the Canadian company’s current initiatives, its 50th anniversary celebrations and the trends that define the current international market.

In 2021, Canadian company Nelvana Enterprises is celebrating its first 50 years in the industry. And while the coronavirus pandemic frustrated some of its plans, Nelvana is preparing a whole year of celebration, starting in June.

Meanwhile, the company will be looking to bring new seasons of its most successful series to the market this spring.

Mellany Masterson, director of Nelvana Enteprises, spoke to ttvnews about the company’s initiatives and the current trends shaping the international market.

2021 is Nelvana’s 50th anniversary year. What does the company have planned?

We are obviously super excited to be celebrating our 50th anniversary this summer. The celebrations are really going to start in June because it marks our actual anniversary and will extended trough the year until next summer. We originally where planning to have a lot of in person events and activities, but obviously as the world has changed so much we just haven’t been able to even plan those types of events. We will be looking to have virtual events, various industry stories coming out, and more.

With any luck you’ll be able to celebrate in person at Mipcom…

That’s our hope. Our original idea was to start the celebration at KidScreen and then continue all the year, so we pushed the start a little bit and we hope we can get together in person..

What shows are you bringing to the market?

We currently have 8 series in production in both 2D and 3D animation and we have a very strong development slate of content, which we are currently working to green light as well. We will be profiling a lot of our new seasons of content this spring, including new season of Bakugan, Agent Binky season 2, which is a 3D series; Esme & Roy season 2, which is a 2D series; Ranger Rob Season 3, another 3D series; and Toon Bops, our musical shorts series, 1-2 minute music videos.

And we have a new series called Super Wish, which we are really excited about. We also have The Dog & Pony Show, as well as Best & Bester, which will air on Nickeloedon internationally, so we will be offering second windows.

How important is Latin America within Nelvana’s strategy?

We hired Leyla Formoso as our Latam sales agent just about 18 months ago. So we did this because Latin America is a really important territory for us and as we continue to grow internationally, we really want to have a dedicated focus on that region.

In addition I should also highlight that we have a really fantastic partnership with Discovery and we have a joint venture with them that we call Red Knot. So we recently green lit our third series within the Red Knot partnership called Super Wish. This series will air on Corus Entertainment Tree House TV and Dicovery Kids in LatAm in early 2022. As part of the remnant, Disovery has the distribution rights in Latam and Nelvana in the rest of the world.

Are you open to coproductions with Latin America?

Nelvana really prides itself on our production partnerships. We co-produce with various producers and broadcasters from all over the world. They are core to what we do. I would love the opportunity to partner with Spanish companies, I think we need to be doing more with different companies from all over the world.

Which trends do you see in today’s kids content production?

I’ve definitely been seeing trends in brands with equity like inherited equity, known brands and IP. There definitely a trend in taking something old and rebooting it or relaunching it in a new imagined way for today.

Known IP is important because it helps mitigate a little bit of risk for the broadcasters and platforms. So I think people are really looking for known IP today. That said, there could be in some years a little bit of fatigue around reboots of things because today everybody is working on reboots, so it is just as important to continue to focus on original content and original IP. At the end of the day everybody is going to tell you that they are looking for great characters, great storytelling.

There is also a bit of a trend in live action. People are looking for live action not just for kids but also for that opportunity for families to come together and watch something together.

Are you currently working on live action content?

We recently expanded into the live action spaces in a bigger way with one of our new series called The Hardy Boys, which aired on Hulu in the US just at the end of last year and premiered in Canada in March. We have also another live action preschool series which is Daytime Emmy nominated series called Miss Persona. We just wrapped production on season 3. And we have three more titles currently in development.

Which trends do you find in the current streaming wars?

It is a very highly competitive market right now, there have been so many changes in the past 18 months to 2 years with all of the major companies creating their own platforms as well as new and emerging platforms popping up like never before. The good news is that over the past 18 months, strategies have been finalized and the companies have chosen their lanes; they know what they are focusing on and know what they want. So that’s important for us as content creators and distributors to really understand the needs of the various clients, broadcasters and platforms, and tailor our offering to what they are looking for. So that’s been a bit of a shift in our thinking in terms of what we put into development and what we are focusing on, and just having a nice mix of products. Because everyone is focusing on different types of contents, so we do try to have something for everyone.

I would say it’s been challenging for the last couple of years, but with all of these major companies wanting to keep all of their content I would say that makes it harder for some of the international broadcasters that would have been acquiring that content for their channels. So that opens new opportunities for us, because we can focus more on these international markets. If they can no longer acquire certain titles form the majors, how can we help them and serve them. So there are challenges, but also opportunities.