Sinking Ship’s Buoyant Business

Kate Sanagan, head of sales and distribution at Sinking Ship Entertainment, talks to TV Kids about the two key strategies driving the company’s recent successes: internal brand-building and third-party producer partnerships.

There have been two key strategies driving Sinking Ship Entertainment’s recent successes: internal brand-building and third-party producer partnerships. “On the brand-building side of things, we have really built out our extensions of series like Dino Dana and Odd Squad, including consumer products, publishing and live experiences,” says Kate Sanagan, head of sales and distribution. “All of these extensions have provided the ongoing growth of audiences for the brands and continued engagement for the fans.

“Additionally, we have increased our efforts to work with an array of third-party producer talent,” Sanagan continues. “We have targeted producers who we feel bring a lot to the table from a creative perspective and are as committed as we are to finding diverse voices and stories.” The company’s current third-party partners include Fred Rogers Productions (Alma’s Way), Aquarius Films (The Unlisted), Northern Pictures (Dance Spies), BBC Children’s Productions (The Demon Headmaster) and Lopii Productions (The Fabulous Show with Fay and Fluffy).

In terms of content trends, Sanagan identifies that the focus on social/emotional themes is bigger than it’s ever been. “Now that we are 18 months into a global pandemic, we are also hearing many buyers looking for comedy and/or series that tend to land on the lighter side of things,” she adds. “Additionally, there are more and more commitments to creating authentic storytelling. We’re seeing a long-overdue push for diverse voices in front of and behind the camera and a desire to have all kids represented in the programming they consume.”

There are two new series on the Sinking Ship slate: Alma’s Way and The Fabulous Show with Fay and Fluffy, “both of which showcase inclusive and diverse lived experiences,” Sanagan says.

Alma’s Way is a new transitional preschool series created by Sonia Manzano and produced by Fred Rogers Productions. Inspired by Manzano’s own childhood, the show centers on 6-year-old Alma Rivera, a proud, confident Puerto Rican girl who lives in the Bronx with her family among a diverse group of close-knit friends and community members. “The series will give children ages 4 to 6 the tools to find their own answers, express what they think and feel, and recognize and respect the unique perspective of others,” says Sanagan.

The Fabulous Show with Fay and Fluffy is a preschool cabaret series hosted by the drag duo Fay and Fluffy. It aims to foster inclusivity, kindness and a love of reading.

“Whenever we look at any series, whether with internal IP or third-party acquisitions, we always start with, what is this show trying to say?” Sanagan says. “Even with our more commercially driven series, we still want to make sure we are looking at projects that lean into authentic voices. It might be overstated these days in our industry, but we really do believe kids want to see stories that aim to reflect their lived experiences. So, we, in turn, aim to develop and acquire series with exceptionally diverse, multidimensional characters.”

Sanagan says that Sinking Ship is always looking to expand its offering into new genres to meet demand and right now is eyeing more 6-to-9 comedies, for example. “We also have a few new projects in development we will be working on with respect to presales,” she notes.