From Russia with Licensing

Russia has become the source of a rising number of children’s properties with eyes on the international market. Factors behind the increase include a boost in government support for the domestic animation industry since the 2000s, the growing sophistication of the licensing business in Russia, and the development of YouTube and other streaming channels as mechanisms to expose properties internationally. Examples of some of the Russian-origin properties currently overseeing global licensing activity include:

  • Kid-E-Cats. Produced by CTC Media, the series is on Nick Jr. in more than 150 countries (excluding the U.S.), supplemented by other broadcast deals. This year, licensor APC Kids signed License Connection as its agent in the Benelux region and added Giochi Preziosi as its toy distributor in Italy, after selecting Asian company Toy Plus as its master toy licensee in December 2018. Recently named sub-agents for the property worldwide include the European Licensing Company for Central and Eastern Europe, Empire for Southeast Asia, Enjoy for Spain and Portugal, and Exim for Mexico and Chile.
  • Booba. Licensor 3D Sparrow Animation Studio recently hired Firefly Brand Management to represent the preschool property in North America, while Plus Licens handles merchandising duties in Russia and surrounding countries. The series airs on Netflix globally, as well as on other streaming channels (including YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes in the U.S.). The Booba YouTube series generates more than 80 million monthly views worldwide. Publisher Egmont Poland is one recent addition to the property’s global licensee list.
  • The Riki universe. One of Russia’s most popular children’s licenses, the Riki Group’s Riki franchise, which now includes Kikoriki, BabyRiki, and the STEM-themed PinCode, launched nearly 15 years ago and has been present on the international scene to various degrees almost since then. Recent international developments for the brand, overseen internationally by Riki Group affiliate FUN Union, have included Licensing Link coming on board to handle BabyRiki licensing in the U.K. and Ireland; growth in Greater China, where BabyRiki has attracted more than 400 million views on various digital platforms and Promotional Partners Worldwide has been signed as master licensee; and the introduction of the property into the U.S. market on the subscription app PlayKids.
  • Masha and the Bear. A notable success story over the past few years among Russian properties globally and locally, Animaccord’s Masha & the Bear continues to expand, recently retaining new licensing agents in several European territories (the property has been particularly strong in Italy, where it is represented by Maurizio Distefano); signing new licensees in Mexico and across Asia, including in China, Taiwan, and India; bringing a Masha and the Bear branded e-commerce site to the U.S. through a deal with Amazon; and reprising an earlier alliance with U.K. retailer The Entertainer involving themed product displays and in-store events.

Other Russian animated TV properties making a mark on the global licensing market to various degrees, or trying to do so, include The Fixies, Flying Animals, Moonzy (Luntik), Mojicons, The Barkers Family, and Catlantis, among others. Some, such as Moonzy, have long had a high profile on the domestic Russian market, while others are newer both globally and locally.

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