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C21May iPad

Saban builds CW kids’ block

US-based Saban Brands has taken over The CW’s Saturday morning children’s block after finalising its partial acquisition of 4Kids Entertainment’s assets.

Yu-Gi-Oh!

Yu-Gi-Oh!

Starting this fall, Saban’s subsidiary Kidsco Media Ventures will supply series such as Power Rangers and Yu-Gi-Oh! for the branded block, which will air from 07.00 to 12.00, and launch a companion website.

Along with the headline series, Saban will launch “other marquee, soon-to-be-announced action-adventure and comedy shows,” it said.

This comes after Kidsco and Japanese gamesco Konami jointly acquired 4Kids’ assets at an auction a few days ago. Kidsco took the Toonzai programming block as part of the deal, marking a “big” return to the kids’ TV business, according to Saban Brands’ president Elie Dekel.

“The broadcasting block represents a unique opportunity for us to be the premier destination for action-adventure and comedy on Saturday mornings, while delivering what kids want online and on mobile 24/7/365,” he said.

“We are very excited to partner with Haim Saban and Saban Brands, an individual and a company with a celebrated history of creating and distributing world-class children’s programming,” said The CW’s chief operating officer John Maatta.

“The association with Saban and the programming and marketing they will bring to us will be a great asset for The CW and its affiliates on Saturday mornings.”

Financial terms and the deal’s length were not revealed. 4Kids’ current CW licence ends in October.

The news comes days after Kidsco bought the space in an auction for the assets of former incumbent 4Kids. Konami had emerged as a rival bidder late in the day but the two decided to work together on a joint bid.

A US$15m deal was subsequently completed at the end of June, with Konami subsidiary 4K Acquisition Corp taking on a majority of the brand rights to manga hit Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Along with the block, Kidsco received rights to 4Kids’ agreement with Toei Animation and Funimation for Dragon Ball Z, which includes the Dragon Ball Z Kai and a number of other existing deals.

Saban Brands’ billionaire owner Haim Saban made his fortune through Power Rangers in the 1990s. He later sold off the proeprty but bought back rights from Disney for about US$100m in 2010 and subsequently launched Saban Brands.

Saban also has experience with US weekend kids’ blocks, having previously programmed toons for Fox – as 4Kids once did too – and owned the now defunct network Fox Kids.

The 4Kids asset sale marks an end for the distributor, which launched the Toonzai (fka The CW4Kids) block in 2008. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year in order to fight a court case over Yu-Gi-Oh! with its Japanese producers.

The sale process got underway after 4Kids settled the case earlier this year.

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