Warner Bros. to expand Sesame brand In China

NEW YORK: In the first deal of its kind for both companies, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organisation, and Warner Bros. Consumer Products will partner to develop and distribute television, print, video, interactive and related merchandise based on Zhima Jie, the Chinese version of Sesame Street. The multi-media early learning initiative will run for an initial period of five years.

The partnership will seek local and global partners to support the creation of three new seasons of television with a total of 195 episodes of Zhima Jie. The goal is to begin airing the first season in 2004. The series encourages children to develop a life-long love of learning, as well as to help them learn to count, read, and respect and appreciate others. Targeted at preschoolers, Zhima Jie aired in China from 1998-2001 on Shanghai Television (STV) and was syndicated across the country.

The updated series will feature more interactive segments showcasing the Zhima Jie characters Hu Hu Zhu, Xiao Mei Zi, and Da Niao (Big Bird) in even more prominent roles. Sesame Workshop and Warner Bros. Consumer Products, in conjunction with Warner Bros. International Television, will jointly seek underwriting for the production.

An official release informs that Sesame Workshop will oversee content and the production of the series. The organisation has co-produced four children's series in China in addition to the 1982 ground-breaking television special, Big Bird Goes to China, produced with China Central Television. Warner Bros. Consumer Products will mobilise its distribution, marketing, and consumer products expertise to partner with leading Chinese companies across a wide range of media and licensed merchandise. A dedicated staff, based initially in Hong Kong, will oversee marketing, sales and retail initiatives for Sesame branded programming and products. Warner Bros. International Television will be responsible for handling the distribution of the programming in China.

The partnership also includes the broadcast, distribution, and product development rights for Sesame English, a live-action series that introduces children and their families to conversational English, common expressions and vocabulary.

Executive VP, international licensing, worldwide interactive and publishing for Warner Bros. Consumer Products Mark Matheny said, " The partnership will focus on the values of the Chinese marketplace and expressing these values through brilliant television programming, publishing, and creative merchandising."

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