TV & Film News – Voss Capital acquires stake in Thunderbird Entertainment Group

Voss Capital has acquired approximately 10.5% of the outstanding shares of Vancouver-based Thunderbird Entertainment Group. Voss Capital analyst Taylor Henderson said they believe Thunderbird is well-positioned to benefit from the growth in content budgets of the top streamers and studios, specifically singling out Thunderbird’s animation division, Atomic Cartoons. Voss CIO Travis Cocke added that Thunderbird stock “represents an attractive long-term investment and continues to be under-followed and undervalued in the public markets.” 

Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana and children’s book publisher Kids Can Press have announced the Nelvana/Kids Can Press Talent Incubator: Black Write Edition, designed to discover, support, and mentor emerging Black storytellers and illustrators. Story proposals or illustration portfolios are being accepted through the blackwrite.ca website with selected candidates to be paired with creative advisors in animation production or book publishing to develop and fully realize their work. The deadline to submit is Nov. 30. The initiative is part of Corus Entertainment’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Action Plan that aims to support diversity, equity and inclusion in the company’s workforce, business and content as well as industry partnerships.

Videotron and TVA Sports have announced a partnership with new East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) team, the Trois-Rivières Lions. Under the agreement, the new Trois-Rivières arena will be named the “Colisée Vidéotron” and TVA Sports will become the exclusive official broadcaster of the Trois-Rivières Lions’ home games. Coverage will begin with the home opener on Oct. 21 vs. the Newfoundland Growlers. Justine St-Martin will host the TVA Sports broadcasts with Sébastien Goulet doing play-by-play and Alexandre Picard providing analysis. Former Montréal Canadiens player Marc-André Bergeron is the team’s general manager. The team is affiliated with the Montréal Canadiens and the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League (AHL).

WildBrain has announced new Strawberry Shortcake animated series, Berry in the Big City, and a new global franchise program encompassing toys, games, books, music, learning and experiences. Berry in the Big City premieres Sept. 18 in a double-episode event on the official Strawberry Shortcake channel on WildBrain Spark, the company’s AVOD network on YouTube and YouTube Kids, where it will be available initially in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. The series is being produced by WildBrain’s Vancouver animation studio with Michael Vogel, one of the creative forces behind My Little Pony: The Movie, acting as showrunner.

Apple TV+ has teamed with WildBrain to become the new home for Yo Gabba Gabba!, including a new original series, comprising 20 half-hour episodes, and the entire Yo Gabba Gabba! library. The new series will be produced in partnership and collaboration with WildBrain and Yo Gabba Gabba LLC, co-owners of the IP. Yo Gabba Gabba! follows a previously announced partnership with Apple and WildBrain, along with Peanuts Worldwide and Lee Mendelson Film Productions, to make Apple TV+ the home for all things Peanuts.

WildBrain has reported its fourth quarter and 2021 year-end results for the periods ended June 30, 2021. In Q4, revenue grew 21% to $112.6 million, compared with $92.9 million in the prior year, driven by the deal with Apple TV+ for the Yo Gabba Gabba! library, ongoing recovery in Spark and the strength of its Consumer Products business. Fiscal 2021 revenue increased 6% to $452.5 million vs $425.6 million in Fiscal 2020. Content Production and Distribution revenue increased 12% to $44.6 million in Q4 2021 vs $39.7 million in Q4 2020, benefiting from the Yo Gabba Gabba! deal and distribution agreements with Netflix, Amazon and WarnerMedia in the current quarter. Q4 2021 revenue at Spark increased 81% to $11.7 million vs $6.5 million in Q4 2020, reflecting ongoing recovery in advertising revenue. Fiscal 2021 revenue at Spark was $45.8 million vs $62.3 million in Fiscal 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19 as well as YouTube’s ad policy changes for kids and family content in early 2020. 

Corus Entertainment kids networks, YTV, TELETOON, and Treehouse, have announced their fall lineups that include spinoffs of series like SpongeBob SquarePants, reimaginings of animated classics like Animaniacs and Looney Tunes, and continued seasons of Sesame Street. New series hitting YTV include the premieres of The Croods: Family Tree (Oct. 2) inspired by the blockbuster DreamWorks Animation film, and Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years (Oct. 3), the CG-animated prequel that follows 10-year-old SpongeBob SquarePants, as well as The Patrick Star Show (Oct. 3), following a younger Patrick Star living at home with his family, where he hosts his own variety show. TELETOON’s lineup includes HBO MAX Original series Tom & Jerry in New York (Sept. 18); Jellystone! (Oct. 10), featuring an ensemble of Hanna-Barbera characters; and Aquaman: King of Atlantis, produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Rolling onto the Treehouse schedule is new 2D-animated Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go! (Sept. 18), animated series Little Ellen (Oct. 1) featuring a 7-year-old Ellen DeGeneres navigating life in New Orleans, and The Wiggles: Live from Hot Potato Studios (Oct. 9).

Double Tap TV, AMI’s popular television program focusing on tech from an accessibility point of view, has returned for its fourth season on AMI-tv. Airing every Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET, Double Tap TV hosts Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo offer viewers an in-depth dive into the consumer tech industry – always asking, “Is this accessible to people with disabilities?” 

Global News has announced plans for its 2021 federal election special, Decision Canada. Live coverage will be available on Amazon Prime Video channels, Roku, the Global TV app, the Global News YouTube channel, and streamed on Globalnews.ca, as well as Corus’ HISTORY network. Global News Radio stations in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton and London will also provide commercial-free coverage beginning at 7 p.m. local time. Decision Canada is led by Global National Anchor and Executive Editor Dawna Friesen and Ottawa Bureau Chief and host of The West Block Mercedes Stephenson. They’ll be supported by an election night panel, featuring Global Toronto Anchor Farah Nasser and Senior National Affairs Correspondent Eric Sorensen. Chief Political Correspondent David Akin will offer comprehensive riding results, while regional anchors involved in election night include Global Halifax’s Sarah Ritchie, Global Toronto’s Tracy Tong, Global Winnipeg’s Lisa Dutton, Global Calgary’s Joel Senick and Global BC’s Sophie Lui

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is producing new broadcast special, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, in partnership with APTN, CBC/Radio-Canada, Insight Productions and Canadian Heritage. In recognition of the new federal statutory holiday, also known as Orange Shirt Day, the one-hour, commercial-free primetime special honours the stories and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples affected by the tragedies of the residential school system in Canada. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will broadcast and stream live Thursday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. ET on APTN, CBC, CBC Gem, ICI TÉLÉ and ICI TOU.TV

ACTRA Toronto Council has approved a name change to their juried performance awards. Its Voice categories will now be known as Outstanding Performance – Gender Non-Conforming or Male Voice and Outstanding Performance – Gender Non-Conforming or Female Voice, while its On Screen awards are now Outstanding Performance – Gender Non-Conforming or Female and Outstanding Performance – Gender Non-Conforming or Male. Gender non-conforming performers can be submitted based on the gender of the character or as the performer identifies. ACTRA Toronto hopes the change will make the awards more inclusive for trans and non-binary performers. The deadline for submissions to the 2022 awards is Oct. 31.

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