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Retro TV Mined for Kids' Stuff

17 Aug, 2003 By: Gretchen Hyman

A recent revival of retro TV classics for kids has been popping up on video store shelves as revamped feature-length films and compilations.

Not only has this renaissance of classic kid franchises captured a new generation of young viewers, but it has also signaled to video marketers and retailers that there is significant revenue potential in relaunching decades-old episodic programming.

In March, Fox Home Entertainment released an updated DVD and VHS version of “Strawberry Shortcake,” a popular 1980s TV cartoon for little girls. It has sold more than 1 million units and is expected to reap an estimated $175 million in video sales, licensing and merchandising deals by the end of the year, according to Carol Lee, SVP of home entertainment for DIC Entertainment, one of the licensors of the “Strawberry Shortcake” properties. Lee attributes this growing trend to a generational cycle of viewers who grew up on the very same classics.

“Parents are at the right age to remember them fondly and want to share them with their children,” Lee said. “We truly feel that there is an interest in properties and brands coming from the '80s, but we also feel that we have successfully relaunched Strawberry and that this new generation looks at her as a brand-new property.”Warner Home Video tapped into the theatrical release of “Scooby-Doo,” one of the longest running animated series in TV history, by spawning a series of straight-to-video animated spinoffs.

The “Scooby-Doo” franchise is considered Warner Home Video's No. 1 revenue-producing property in its kids category, according to Jeff Baker, Warner Home Video's VP of nontheatrical franchise marketing.

In April, Artisan Home Entertainment released the first 11 episodes of the 1980s classic “Speed Racer” on DVD. Artisan also plans to release a feature film based on the “Care Bears” franchise, which in 2003 will earn an estimated $250 million in retail sales alone.

“You've got your core fans waiting for this kind of thing,” said Hosea Belcher, SVP of marketing for Artisan Home Entertainment. “There is no denying the power of the brand, and there is definitely a group of consumers out there who are avid collectors and just buy it up.”

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