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Latino Kidvids Blossom

25 Jul, 2005 By: Angelique Flores

With a swelling Latino home entertainment market, suppliers are starting to fill the gap in the latest niche: Latino kidvid.

Ventura Entertainment just last week signed a deal with Sesame Workshop to debut “Plaza S?samo” on DVD. Under the multiyear, multititle deal, Ventura's Studio Latino has licensed the rights to distribute 10 “Plaza S?samo” titles. The initial titles — ¡Vamos a Cantar! (Let's Sing!) and Me Gusta Ser Yo (I Like Being Me) — are slated for release Sept. 27 (prebook Aug. 16) and are priced at $14.98 each.

In the late 1990s, Sony Wonder released two “Plaza S?samo” segments on VHS, in the Sesame Workshop brand. This time, the videos are targeted at the Latino community, said Heather Hanssen, director of video business development, Sesame Workshop.

“We need to teach Latino children that their culture is really unique and beautiful,” said Concepcion Lara, SVP of business development and marketing, Studio Latino.

The Spanish-language program, for kids ages 2 to 5, teaches curriculum similar to “Sesame Street” but tweaked for the Latino community, Hanssen said. It features the characters Abelardo (Big Bird's cousin), Poncho and Lola, as well as Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, Grover and Elmo.

The show provides Spanish-language programming for children, keeping the language alive, Lara said, and it teaches Latino culture.

“A lot of the growth of the Latino market is fueled by immigration,” Lara said. “Adults are coming from Latin America, and parents have a strong drive to keep the culture alive.”

The show, which has been on Latin American TV since 1972 and on U.S. TV for more than 10 years, also gives parents a sense of nostalgia for it.

Xenon Pictures also is releasing two Spanish-language children's programs. The live-action, educational program from Mexico, “El Cubo de Donalu,” makes it U.S. debut Aug. 23 (prebook July 18; DVD $9.99). The Spanish-language Mexican series “Juana the Iguana” (DVD $14.99 each) arrives the same day with three separate titles. This show is a winner of the Parents' Choice Gold Circle Award.

Meet ‘Maya & Miguel'
With Paramount Home Entertainment's hit “Dora the Explorer” reinforcing the booming Latino market, others are looking to tap into that success.

Lions Gate Home Entertainment and Scholastic Entertainment will bring the hit series “Maya & Miguel” to video Sept. 13 (prebook Aug. 13). The two titles, Twice the Fun and Funny Fix-Ups ($16.98 DVD, $12.98 VHS each), each will feature four episodes from the show's first season, a Spanish-language track and bonus games. Each VHS will include two episodes.

“It really filled a niche in the market that was more relevant and wasn't being done for kids ages 6-11,” said Michael Rathauser, VP of marketing for Lions Gate Family Entertainment.

The animated English-language series debuted in fall 2004 and stars bilingual Latino twins Maya and Miguel, who are surrounded by a multicultural community.

“It reflects more and more of what America is really like today,” Rathauser said. “It helps children grow up understanding other cultures and languages. ‘Dora the Explorer' does this, but the difference is that ‘Maya & Miguel' is a show that fans can graduate to because it skews to an older age group.”

The series' goal is to promote cultural diversity and to support English language learners, according to Rathauser. It teaches culture and language in a fun and relevant manner to kids, with an emphasis on Latino children.

“We were looking at ways to address the merging Latino population and the demographic transformation that our country is experiencing,” added Mindy Figueroa, project director for “Maya & Miguel,” Scholastic Entertainment. “The Latino community is a fast-growing segment. We felt we needed to address it.”

The program just wrapped up its first season and quickly rose to No. 1 on PBS Kids Go! It earned the Parents' Choice Approved seal, a Corporate Citizenship award from the Hispanic Federation, Corporate Outreach award from the Puerto Rican Family Institute Award and a nomination for an Imagen Award for Best Children's Animated Programming.

The property has been licensed for merchandise. Scholastic cut an exclusive deal — which started in the spring and runs through September — with Target Stores to sell “Maya & Miguel” girls clothing. In the fall, products such as hair accessories, shoes, dolls, plushes, figurines, toys and games will be available at Claire's Boutique Wal-Mart, Sears, Kmart and Target.

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