It’s a big change for Universal Partnerships & Licensing President Stephanie Sperber: A year after she extended her contract into 2016, the company said today that her turf will expand to include merchandise deals for NBC and Sprout properties. The change, giving her titles such as The Biggest Loser and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, is designed to “bring scale and impact with licensees and retailers to benefit all of our film and TV properties,” Universal Filmed Entertainment Chairman Jeff Shell says. The company credits Sperber for leading licensed merchandise efforts for Universal’s Despicable Me 2 among other things. UP&L is particularly eager to make deals for Sprout. NBCUniversal took full control of the children’s network last year when it bought out partners including PBS. It hopes to make a splash in the licensing world as it introduces original programs and, as the company put it, “expands the reach of its beloved brand icon, Chica.” Other priorities include programs to promote Universal’s planned 2015 tent poles led by Pitch Perfect 2, Fast & Furious 7, Jurassic World and Minions. Hasbro is already on board to handle Jurrasic World toys, and Thinkaway Toys will be global master toy licensee for Minions.
The preschooler-targeted network Sprout is the latest addition to Cablevision’s Optimum TV, which announced on Wednesday that Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze network would be available by the end of the month. Sprout announced a slate of new programming last month at NBC’s Summer Press Day, as well as the renewal of its hit The Chica Show for a second season. Click over to read today’s release:
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
The preschooler-targeted network Sprout today announced a new slate of original programming additions as well as the renewal of its hit The Chica Show for a second season and its movement-inspiring series LazyTown for a third campaign. Sprout president Sandy Wax noted during an afternoon session at NBC’s Summer Press Day that the ratings for the network — now available in more than 50 million homes — continue to be on the rise. It’s co-owned as a partnership of PBS, NBCUniversal, and Apax Funds, with shows in its lineup also running Saturday mornings as part of the NBC Kids lineup. Originally launched in 2006 exclusively on PBS, the Sprout digital channel is the only preschooler-themed channel that’s available 24/7, targeting not only insomniac kids aged 2-5 but also their exhausted parents and caregivers.