Core to Cyber Group Studios’ strategy as it navigates the current marketplace is a mantra to act locally and grow globally, according to Raphaelle Mathieu, the company’s senior VP of sales, acquisitions and new media.
For example, the company is teaming up more and more with other producers worldwide to join forces and strongly anchor a program in one or two territories, at the development and production stage, to identify and ultimately create programs appealing to a worldwide audience.
“Our aim is to find the best partners on a territory-by-territory basis, whether in terms of animation production or in terms of digital content,” says Mathieu.“These partnerships are essential for the development of Cyber Group Studios, with each territory having its own specificity. From this perspective, we value very much our partnership with Soyuzmultfilm Studio, a key player in Russia, and are working to structure new ventures in other territories.”
The cartoon comedy Taffy is a testament to this strategy. Originally developed and produced with Turner EMEA, the program has grown to be the first Boomerang original series, “with massive global exposure on Boomerang worldwide (besides the U.S.),” says Mathieu. “It’s a modern classic cartoon, in the spirit of Tom and Jerry, with natural global appeal.”
Sadie Sparks, an animated comedy for kids 6 to 11, reflects the “act locally” aspect of the company’s strategy, thanks to its co-production with Brown Bag Films in Ireland. “The series is so innovative—mixing CGI scenes and 2D scenes—and beautiful that it’s appealing worldwide,” Mathieu says. “On this front, we will announce for MIPTV a major deal in Latin America.”
Also at MIPTV, Cyber Group Studios is planning to reveal upcoming developments in India, including the 52×7-minute 2D HD preschool animated show Purple Turtle, inspired by one of the world’s leading preschool IPs of the same name, “that will impact both our digital activity and our own animation production,” she adds. “We are working as well on a new venture in China. The aim of structuring these local partnerships is to create content with global potential and to be stronger in these markets. We believe in joining forces.”
Cyber Group Studios is looking to link up with the best partners (regardless of which market they are in) to bring stories to kids all over the world. “There are talented people worldwide, and we try to meet a lot of producers and studios to find the best partners for our shows,” says Mathieu. “We travel a lot and go to visit potential partners. Direct contact is critical and is an accelerator. We do not believe in finding the right format or the right media; we need to find a great story to tell, and we evaluate how it will be best told in terms of format. And, of course, we have to ask ourselves what the market is for this type of content.”
Digital, she says, is a global phenomenon with local impacts. “Digital is the cornerstone of our development. There are very talented people in India and Russia with great expertise. We are very actively exploring partnerships with key players in these territories to create original content. We have structured as well a deal with WildBrain that has become our main MCN, and that does a fantastic job.”