Cyber Group Studios’ Dominique Bourse

Since 2005, Cyber Group Studios has built its own production, media distribution and character-licensing businesses. Now, the company has opened up the first two platforms to a few third parties for production and media distribution services. Dominique Bourse, who recently took on the mantle of chairman and CEO, tells TV Kids about these efforts.

***Image***TV KIDS: Tell us about your transition into the chairman and CEO role.
BOURSE: The transition was smooth and organic, as I co-founded Cyber Group Studios with Pierre Sissmann in 2005, after a 14-year tenure at The Walt Disney Company, and we have built the company together since then. Some of my additional responsibilities in the new role include oversight of the distribution of our extensive catalog and creative development of new series across our global companies. I am fortunate to work alongside teams of very seasoned executives who are in charge of these activities and have a strong track record of success in the industry as well.

TV KIDS: How has Cyber Group Studios’ production pipeline been expanding with its own projects?
BOURSE: Our production pipeline has been growing steadily, fueled by our global production capabilities and proven track record. We consistently launch four to five new productions per year, which means a recurrent volume of eight to ten series at various stages of production at all times. A significant R&D endeavor, as well as our best-in-class global network of partner studios, support this sheer volume.

TV KIDS: What led to the decision to open production services up to third parties?
BOURSE: Several requests for production services from long-term broadcast partners led to our decision to launch this activity. We have created a scalable model that enables us to offer a complete service (i.e., from scripts to postproduction) or any combination of production tasks according to our clients’ needs. We can also advise them on making the production work that is done in France eligible for the significant competitive advantages of the French ecosystem in terms of access to talent and financing (international tax credit). Depending on the project, we can do the production services ourselves or with a partner studio while remaining the sole contact for our client. Last year, we did production service work on a very innovative series based on a blockbuster brand (The Walking Dead: Last Mile) for Skybound Entertainment, Genvid Entertainment and Meta. This year, we are producing a high-end original series for a global streaming platform and are discussing other projects with additional leading industry players as well. We are looking for productions that give us the opportunity to bring to our clients the added value of our editorial, artistic and technical experience in making great animated content for the global market.

TV KIDS: What has been driving the gains for Cyber Group Studios’ distribution business as of late?
BOURSE: We have built a commercial team with strong entrepreneurial and business development skills. We have developed our distribution business with large broadcasters and streamers in big countries and with more local players all around the world to ensure the largest possible international coverage. We look at distribution with two key objectives: program monetization and brand awareness. Generating the latter is more complex with an increasingly fragmented audience, but we love seeking, testing and finding solutions.

TV KIDS: What’s the strategy for taking on third parties for media distribution services?
BOURSE: We launched this activity in 2009 to respond to market demand when the recession forced many producers to outsource their distribution to reduce their fixed costs. Since then, we have built a scalable media distribution organization and platform enabling us to exploit third-party series, features and catalogs to enrich our own in-house content offerings with a complementary selection. We carefully select the series, features and catalogs that complement our own, so that we’re presenting our broadcasting and streaming clients a “one-stop-shop” destination. In February, we announced the media distribution of Splash Entertainment’s more than 500-hour catalog, available in a wide variety of languages.

TV KIDS: Why is opening up production and distribution to third parties a strategic move for the company’s overall health and growth?
BOURSE: We have built scalable production and distribution platforms with demonstrated track records. Opening up these platforms to third parties generates economies of scale and makes possible innovation investments that will make them even more efficient. Plus, this enables us to strengthen our relationships with our global partners. As our industry is evolving quickly, agility and innovation are of the essence to adapt and grow.

TV KIDS: Are there plans to eventually open the character-licensing business to third parties as well?
BOURSE: Not yet, as we are still fine-tuning our scalable character-licensing platform with a mix of vertically integrated activity in certain countries and a network of 17 agents in the rest of the world. We are increasing its efficiency thanks to our preschool intellectual property Gigantosaurus, which has achieved global ratings success and attracted more than 65 licensees worldwide that have helped it grow into an ambitious licensing program across multiple consumer-products categories globally.