Random House Children’s Books has signed a license with Zinkia Entertainment that gives it the rights to publish children’s formats tied to the preschool 3D-animated television series Pocoyo. The first books will release in August 2012.
“Our licensing portfolio is overflowing with wonderful preschool properties,” says Chris Angelilli, v-p and editor-in-chief of Golden Books. “But Pocoyo fills a need for us, which is something for the very young. We’ve had our eye on Pocoyo for quite some time now.” The focus will be on board and novelty books and younger coloring and activity and storybook formats, but some older-skewing formats such as Step 1 Step into Reading titles are planned as well. Random House also will release ebooks based on its print titles.
The TV series, which premiered in Zinkia’s home country of Spain in 2002 and has a tagline of “Learn Through Laughter,” airs in the U.S. on Nick Jr., Univision, Discovery Familia, and some public television stations. It launched on Nick Jr. in 2010 as interstitials (short clips between shows), then expanded to half hours on weekend mornings before launching this November as a daily half hour series.
“The property is performing very well, trending above their averages,” says Travis Rutherford, CEO of Evolution Management Group, Pocoyo’s new U.S. licensing agent. He notes that exposure for the property is not only through Nick Jr., but also the other broadcast partners, DVDs and now books. “It’s a pretty interesting distribution platform, supported by really innovative promotions and extensive marketing in the last year or so.”
“We think even if children haven’t seen the show, they’ll be attracted to our books,” Angelilli says. “It’s irresistible.”
Worldwide master toy licensee Bandai launched toys in the U.S. this fall—quite early for a licensed toy line, since the show just went daily on Nick Jr.—while NCircle distributes DVDs, selling 2.5 million since 2010, and The Canadian Group (TCG) is on board for puzzles and games. In October, Zinkia signed Evolution to help it expand into apparel, accessories, footwear, bedding, party goods, and other categories, as well as sound books and digital readers. (Leapfrog is a partner in other territories.) “We’re planning to expand in a measured way, not go crazy,” Rutherford says. “We want the right product at the right price point.”
More than 150 licensees worldwide market 2,000 products tied to Pocoyo, which is on the air in 150 countries. Publishers include Grupo Planeta in Spain, Portugal, and South America, HEP in China, and De Agostini in Italy. Random House is talking with Zinkia about what publishing assets are available, and may adapt some international titles for the U.S. market as well as creating its own.
The program has been a pioneer in the preschool world when it comes to social media. Its YouTube channel has generated more than 600 million hits, with 50 million unique visitors per month (10 million in the U.S.); it gains 2,000 new fans daily on Facebook, accruing 500,000 total registered users; its official Web site has attracted 33 million visitors; and its virtual universe, PocoyoWorld, has had 2.5 million unique visitors and has 566,000 registered users.