Call it DIC Entertainment's triple play: assembling three exclusive three-hour blocks of FCC-friendly kids programming for Fox, UPN, and The WB stations. The programming works so well that DIC will produce more titles this fall and is acquiring new shows from other producers.
"The longer we are on the air, the more we see continued growth," says David Ozer, DIC senior vice president, domestic TV. "That's allowing us to juggle some shows around and see where we can program more aggressively."
Joining the lineup is Emmy-nominated Liberty's Kids, a show about kids in the American Revolution produced exclusively for PBS. The show will exit public television and become part of DIC's commercial programming library. The company also grabbed Ace Lightning
from the BBC, a combo live-action/CGI-animated show that already airs in 40 countries. It will have its U.S. debut on DIC's kids blocks. And DIC will add Sabrina's Secret Life, which it produces. It's also producing five Christmas specials.
"Finding distribution in the U.S. is extremely difficult if you are an outside producer of kids programming," Ozer says. "And that's more true for the kids market than for other parts of the market." But it plays to DIC's advantage, he adds, because it's so difficult for stations that aren't Big Three affiliates to round up FCC-friendly programming that also scores with kids. DIC handles all the FCC paperwork for stations, making the package even more appealing.
The final victory: DIC programs perform for advertisers. DIC runs the same national ads in all its three-hour blocks, even if they run on different stations in one market. In the week ended Feb. 23, the cumulative rating gave DIC a 1.8 in households, versus ABC's 1.6, NBC's 1.5, The WB's 1.5, CBS's 1.1, and Fox's 0.9.
"They've turned out to be one of the few, maybe the only, alternatives that exist for stations," says Bill Carroll, vice president, programming, Katz Television Group Programming. "When you can have those programs and it fulfills your instructional and informational requirement, that's a win-win for everyone."