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"Children are every day more open to interactivity and electronics"

Carlos Biern, executive vice-president of BRB International


Carlos Biern es el vicepresidente ejecutivo de BRB

Canimals es una de las producciones más recientes de la compañía

BRB was established in 1972 as a merchandising agent in Spain for foreign TV series, and in 1979 the company also decided to start producing its own content. As explained by the company's vice-president, Carlos Biern, today BRB still maintains its international vocation and its attention to new trends. In particular, the importance of the Internet and the possibilities of three-dimensional content.

BRB recently launched BRB Play, a website where you can see many of the company’s productions online and free. Do you think this way of watching contents will be complementary to traditional broadcasting?
What will really change the market for children is video on-demand through tablets. Once children have a tablet in their room, rates of on-demand content sales will increase greatly. In fact, Clan TV is seeing how these rates are increasing every month since they've launched their applications for Iphone and Ipad.

The most popular tablet, the Ipad, is still very expensive for kids, but as more brands enter the market, prices will go down. For Christmas 2012, these tablets will cost around 200 euros, and all kids under 25 will want their own.

Furthermore, they also have many possibilities for interactive games: cameras, GPS, tactile interfaces, image and movement recognition... And a business that can make the most of these opportunities is the animation industry.

At the moment, these channels are complementary to traditional broadcasting, but they will grow, as connected televisions, media centres and TiVo.

Do you think that three dimension productions are just a fad?

3D technology is going to be present in the market for children and youth contents, particularly thanks to the success of 3D videogames.

It is true that there are some negative news coming from the US about 3D television and films, but the main problem is the absence of content: why is anybody going to buy a 3D TV if there are no specific channels and programs?

In the medium and long-term, the use of 3D for animated contents will grow, although this trend will take longer to implement than video on demand. What is really important is to create specific products for 3D. Our Screen21 studio was renamed Screen21 3D a year and half ago, because our products are thought from the beginning for this technology, playing with all the possibilities it offers. Thus, we have launched Zoobabu and Canimals, which will be the first series to be released in Europe in 3D, through broadcasters that allow this technology.

On the other hand, there is demand from TV manufacturers, as they want to sell their new devices, but need content to do so.

What do you need to take into account when developing a licensing program for children audiovisual content?
Technology –and more every day. For the pre-school category, traditional items such as stuffed toys still work very well. But I fear that action toys will increasingly have more problems to be sold. As I mentioned, children between 6 and 8 years prefer to play with the content of tablets than with a figure.

In addition, nowadays babies will be familiar with devices that recognize movement, as Kinect, as well as tactile technology. Of course, traditional toys and games will still have presence, but preference will be for toys that react to stimulus.

I was recently at a Fisher-Price conference in New York, during which it was said that today's children play with physical toys during 8 years before moving to electronics, but within 3 years, this age could be reduced to 5 years. Children are becoming more open to interaction and electronic devices.

Therefore, it is crucial to incorporate technology, not very expensive, as we did with Invizimals, by Sony, which was the first content that used augmented reality.

Besides, we must be clear about the target addressed, and work more on the design, in order to do something that differentiates the product. Also, companies have to think globally, and not only in terms of the Spanish or South European market.

There is a lack of creativity in products. Many licensees do not take risks, I guess largely because of the economic situation. But in the end parents select brands, and not their children, because these are brands that parents know from when they were children, and now come back again -often even with designs that look old-fashioned.

Some people think that these brands will work because they did so 30 years ago, but I'm not so sure that this is the right move with an audience of between 6 and 25. Contents do not renew as fast as the audience, and the industry often finds out that sales are not as good as expected.

In BRB we try to do something different, with our new products, such as Canimals or Angus and Cheryl. These concepts are new, clean, and with international vocation. Although we obviously do not leave aside our older brands.
When BRB produces a new series, is it already thinking about its licensing program?

Yes, absolutely. If the series does not have the potential to generate 50% or 60% of revenues through licensing, we won’t produce it. Today you cannot work launching the series and later, if ratings are good, preparing a licensing program.

What criteria do you follow when reaching a new agreement to represent another license?
We try to complement what the market wants. We represent Cartoon Network properties focused on action toys like Ben10; we've also taken girls oriented brands, such as the Powerpuff Girls, and properties without a TV series behind, as the Pink Panther and Pepsi. We want brands that may work for the Spanish audience, which is where we work as agents. We try to select 5 or 6 properties that do not compete between each other. Right now, mostly in entertainment, where we are more focused, although we have also represented sports brands in the past.

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