Monday, November 24, 2008

Television Shows Spawn Long Life For Merchandise

June 22nd 1975 -
For "many TV shows, the report of their merchandising divisions is almost as important as the latest rating. The sale of merchandise built around the show can be a big plus to its credit rating.

I visited Barbara Atlas in heroffice, to talk about the show she and Doug Momary created and produce. That would be the syndicated children's show, Tlie New Zoo Revue. It is currently one of the most successful shows for children — both in ratings and ih merchandising. Her office is unlike the average TV producer's digs. It is more like a toy showroom, shelves line all the walls and they, are crammed with samples of the toys and other items built around The New Zoo Revue's characters.

Before she got into the TV business. Barbara Atlas was a free-lance toy designer. Her husband is a toy retailer. So this end of show business was familiar to her. more familiar than the other end. The New Zoo Revue is now shown in 128 markets, and they have 196 half-hour episodes showing. They are anxious to; keep up the good work in that department, but they are equally anxious to sell merchandise. The designing, licensing and merchandising of toys' featuring the-show's stars Freddie Frog, Henrietta Hippo, and Charlie Owl' is big business.

"In some cases." Atlas says, "the money from the merchandising exceeds the profits from the show itself. That hasn't yet happened to us, but I still have hopes." They have products ranging in price from 29 cents — an eraser — to $150 — huge stuffed animals. There is everything from bikini underpants to cigarette lighters, clothing, pillows, games, dolls, jewelry.

"Dolls are a big item these days." she says. "And dolls are currently as important in boys' toys as they are in girls'. Boys begin playing with dolls at an early age, and they are masculine in character; but still dolls." The ability to create a line of items that sells is important in today's TV programming.

Sometimes, though, the failure of a show leaves toy manufacturers holding the bag. That happened this past network season. Barbara Atlas says, with Planet of the Apes. "It got off to a tremendous start," she says, "and they licensed all kinds of toys and gadgets, but the show's flop
caused retailers and distributors to get stuck with a lot of it.'They just hope that the continued success of the Apes movies'will result in some sales yet.

"On the" other hand. Star Trek merchandise is still selling well, even though the show has been off the network for some years.: But it is still doing well in syndication." . The Federal Communications Commission keeps a watchful eye on the merchandising area, Atlas says. They frown on having any of the merchandise shown on the air, although can be used in.the background.

No comments: