Olivier Dumont, Monica Candiani Talk Hasbro/eOne Integration

eOne Family Brands’ Olivier Dumont and Monica Candiani talk to TV Kids about how the integration with Hasbro has supersized their kids’ and family slate.

Announcing its $4 billion acquisition of Entertainment One last summer, Hasbro cited Peppa Pig, PJ Masks and Ricky Zoom as key additions to the global play and entertainment giant’s stable of enviable brands. Under the leadership of Olivier Dumont, eOne Family had established itself as a major player in the preschool space, delivering hit properties to broadcasters and platforms across the globe and then building those shows into massive L&M brands (Peppa alone has generated more than $1 billion in retail sales worldwide).

Following the closing of the transaction in December, the integration of the two companies began, with eOne Family Brands set as Hasbro’s new content arm. With Dumont at the helm as president, and Monica Candiani leading the distribution team as executive VP of content sales, the division is responsible for development, production and distribution of the merged company’s kids’ and family slate. “That includes Transformers, Power Rangers, My Little Pony, and the different iterations of these brands, in addition to our preschool brands,” Dumont tells TV Kids Weekly. (The licensing and merchandising activities that Dumont previously oversaw at eOne have moved to Hasbro’s own powerhouse consumer-products business.)

The expanded slate has meant a bigger sales team under Candiani and lots of new clients. “We’ve increased the number of partners on the digital and linear sides,” Candiani explains, with the merger bringing some older-skewing properties to her previously preschool-heavy slate.

“It was a very intense period, particularly from March to July,” says Dumont, as the integration progressed amid a global pandemic. “We were getting our heads around all these new properties and their iterations, we had to greenlight a lot of shows and production wasn’t slowing down.”

As for serving broadcasters during COVID-19 lockdowns, Dumont notes that eOne Family Brands could not answer the immediate call for educational content, but the company did spring into action to license more digital rights. “Everybody wanted more of Peppa, especially,” Candiani says. “I remember giving authorization overnight to license more content for digital. We have a strategy for the exploitation of digital content—in some cases, we cannot give too much because of our linear agreements with broadcasters. Some public broadcasters and digital platforms called us, asking, Can I have more [rights] for one month? And then we extended for another and another, until June. Then everything calmed down. Everybody went back on track. But from mid-March till the end of June, we provided more digital rights to some of the key broadcasters, especially in Europe.”

While continuing to roll out Peppa Pig, PJ Masks and Ricky Zoom, Candiani is especially excited to be working on My Little Pony: Pony Life, the first new show based on a Hasbro brand under her remit. The brand-new production has already landed deals in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the U.K., Latin America, the U.S., Canada, Germany and France. And there’s more in store for the beloved My Little Pony brand, Dumont says, noting that he’s spent the last few months on a feature film, set to be released by Paramount in 2021, that will reinvent the storied property. “It’s CGI, high-end, with a gorgeous look.” Pony Life, meanwhile, already has a second season in the works, Dumont says.

Hasbro has a deep stable of brands that can be brought to life or reimagined with new content. On how he and his team are surveying this extensive portfolio, Dumont observes: “The mindset we had at eOne Family Brands ahead of Hasbro was to think about creating properties that could expand beyond just being a show, so we spoke the same language. We were used to thinking about the brand and consumer-products potential…. It was like two pieces of a puzzle coming together. We’re very strong in preschool and they didn’t have a lot there, and they were very strong in older kids and we were developing brands on that side but not as many.”

As for eOne Family Brands’ approach to cultivating a slate that will serve multiple segments of the market, Dumont says: “We think about those key commercial demos—slightly more daily life preschool, action-adventure preschool, fashion brands [for older girls] and action-adventure brands. Very quickly, we saw there was a lot on the action-adventure side—new iterations of Transformers, Power Rangers—so we don’t need to develop as many action-adventure shows. On the fashion side, we have My Little Pony, which is massive. I think there are more opportunities on the girl-learning side. On the preschool end, there was one show in development at Hasbro that we took on. We had quite a few shows on our side, including one that is about to be greenlit, so we just continued with those, which were really embraced by the toy group.”

At present, Dumont and his team are working on the new My Little Pony show, My Little Pony: Pony Life; a new Transformers; the first season of Power Rangers Dino Fury; season two of Ricky Zoom, with season three in development; the rollout of season eight of Peppa Pig; and season five of PJ Masks, with development beginning on season six. Candiani and her team are also introducing Treehouse Detectives.