WildBrain Ltd. (formerly known as DHX Media, Ltd.) is a Canadian media, production, and brand licensing company formed in 2006 through the merger of Decode Entertainment and the Halifax Film Company. The company is known for owning the largest library of children's television programming, which is distributed through its multi-channel network, WildBrain Spark, and a group of Canadian specialty television channels.
|DHX Media (2006–2019)|
|Traded as||TSX: WILD|
Halifax Film Company
|Headquarters||5657 Spring Garden Road, Suite 505,|
Number of locations
|Revenue||CAD $439.8 million (Fiscal 2019)|
Number of employees
|est. 1000 (2015)|
|Footnotes / references|
As DHX Media
In 2006, the Toronto-based Decode Entertainment and Halifax-based Halifax Film Company merged to form a public company known as DHX Media. The name, "DHX", derives from the combination of the names Decode and Halifax.
A reverse merger deal with Entertainment One was considered in 2008, but was dropped. On March 25, 2008, DHX Media acquired Bulldog Interactive Fitness. On September 8, 2010, all related subsidiaries and divisions were rebranded under the label DHX Media. On September 14, 2010, DHX Media acquired the original WildBrain Entertainment.
On August 20, 2012, it was announced that DHX Media would acquire Cookie Jar Group for CA $111 million, a deal which would make DHX the world's largest independent owner of children's television programming. The acquisition was completed on October 22, 2012.
In May 2013, DHX introduced three premium, subscription-based channels on YouTube; DHX Junior, DHX Kids, and DHX Retro. DHX's then executive chairman Michael Hirsh explained that the offerings were meant to leverage the company's library and the growth of digital distribution in the children's television market. DHX was among the first 30 content partners for YouTube's premium channel platform.
On September 16, 2013, DHX acquired Ragdoll Worldwide—a joint venture between Ragdoll Productions, BBC Worldwide and an investment group that managed and licensed Ragdoll Productions' properties (such as Teletubbies) outside the United Kingdom.
Expansion into broadcasting, subsequent partnerships
On November 28, 2013, DHX announced that it would acquire four children's specialty television channels from the former Astral Media for CA $170 million, consisting of Family Channel, Disney Junior (English), Disney Junior (French), and Disney XD. The networks were being sold as a condition of Bell Media's 2013 acquisition of the remainder of Astral Media's assets; its purchase of the networks marked DHX's first foray into television broadcasting. The deal was approved by the CRTC on July 24, 2014, and closed on July 31, 2014. The channels were incorporated into a new unit, DHX Television.
In early 2014, DHX Media acquired Epitome Pictures, the producers of Degrassi, but Epitome did not own international distribution rights. In November, DHX purchased 117 children's and family titles from US distributor Echo Bridge Home Entertainment. The acquisition comprised about 1,200 half-hours including the international distribution rights to Degrassi, as well as Instant Star and The L.A. Complex (two other Epitome productions), as well as distribution rights to an additional 34 series. Other shows in the purchase included Lunar Jim, Beast Wars: Transformers and Emily of New Moon. Nerd Corps Entertainment, a Canadian animation studio founded by former Mainframe Entertainment producers Asaph Fipke and Chuck Johnson, also the makers of Slugterra, was acquired by DHX Media on December 24.
In April 2015, Corus Entertainment announced that it had acquired Canadian rights to the program library of Disney Channel and its associated brands as part of a deal with the Disney–ABC Television Group; DHX's existing deal with Disney, which covered programming across the four DHX Television services, ended in January 2016. DHX's Disney-branded channels were re-branded as Family Jr. and Télémagino in September 2015.
In August 2015, DHX reached an output deal with AwesomenessTV; the deal includes rights to its programming for Family Channel, along with plans to co-develop new, original content for DHX to distribute and merchandise internationally. In December 2015, DHX reached an output deal with DreamWorks Animation, which included Canadian rights to its original animated television series, and a pact to co-produce 130 episodes of animated programming for the Family networks, with DHX handling Canadian distribution and DreamWorks handling international distribution. Also that month, DHX established a development deal with Mattel to co-develop and handle global sales for content in the Little People and Polly Pocket franchises, as well as HiT Entertainment properties owned by them such as the Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam franchises, including television and digital video programming.
In April 2016, DHX Media announced the formation of a new London-based multi-channel network under the WildBrain name. On September 21, 2016, DHX cut a deal with Air Bud Entertainment (founded by Robert Vince) distribute the Air Bud library of 15 films, including the newest Air Bud production Pup Star.
Peanuts acquisition, reorganizations
On May 10, 2017, DHX announced that it had acquired the entertainment division of Iconix Brand Group for US $345 million. The purchase gave DHX full ownership to the Strawberry Shortcake franchise and, more prominently, an 80% majority stake in Peanuts Worldwide.
On October 2, 2017, the company announced that it was evaluating strategic alternatives, including a potential sale, following a review of its finances. DHX's debt had increased following the Iconix acquisition, and the company reported a net loss of CA $18.3 million during its fiscal fourth quarter. On May 14, 2018, DHX announced that it would sell a 39% stake (approximately 49% of its total ownership) in Peanuts Worldwide to its Japanese licensee Sony Music Entertainment Japan for US $185 million. The sale would be used to help cover DHX's debt.
On September 24 2018, DHX announced that it had concluded its strategic review and decided against selling the company, and that it planned to prioritize investments into digital content (including short-form digital content for WildBrain, and premium long-form content intended for platforms such as Amazon Video and Netflix), rather than television, to reflect changes in viewing habits. On the same day, the company also reported a revenue of CA $434.4 million for its fiscal 2018 (up from CA $298.7 million in its fiscal 2017). In November 2018, DHX announced the sale of its Halifax animation studio to IoM Media Ventures, a new company led by former DHX CEO Dana Landry. The Halifax animation studio had been operating on a loss. The sale was completed on December 21, 2018.
In February 2019, the company announced plans to consolidate its operations into two internal subsidiaries for "improved focus and strategic flexibility", focused on studios and networks, and digital respectively. During its investors' call, then CEO Michael Donovan stated that the company had slightly downsized its slate of productions to "focus on the shows we think have the greatest potential, particularly with respect to consumer products".
In August 2019, former Marvel Entertainment CEO and founder of Classic Media (now DreamWorks Classics) Eric Ellenbogen was named the new CEO of DHX Media. On September 23, 2019, DHX Media announced a reorganization, including CFO Doug Lamb stepping down and being replaced by existing COO Aaron Ames, and the addition of a new "brand director" position. In addition, DHX began trading as "WildBrain", building upon its multi-channel network of the same name (which was subsequently renamed to "WildBrain Spark"). Company president Josh Scherba explained that the name was "synonymous with creativity, imagination and innovation", and symbolized the company's efforts to achieve stronger collaboration and integration between its businesses. DHX shareholders officially approved the change in corporate name during its annual shareholder meeting in December.
- WildBrain CPLG (formerly Copyright Promotions Licensing Group), a third-party entertainment, sport and brand licensing agency headquartered in London, United Kingdom, which became a subsidiary to WildBrain in the process of the acquisition of Cookie Jar Entertainment.
- WildBrain Distribution: WildBrain distributes television shows and specials within their library to various media platforms, territory-by-territory. The company maintains distribution offices in Toronto, Beijing, and Paris, and a support team in Toronto.
- WildBrain Television: WildBrain operates four Canadian television channels: three in English (Family Channel, Family Jr., and Family Chrgd) and a French-language channel (Télémagino). They were acquired in 2013 from Bell Media as part of its acquisition of Astral Media.
- WildBrain Studios: WildBrain maintains a production studio in Vancouver, British Columbia, and formally operated 3 others.
- WildBrain Spark is a multi-channel network based in London, England, that programs digital children's content on services such as YouTube. Such content includes those relating to WildBrain Ltd's own properties, as well as edutainment and toys. It was formerly known as simply "WildBrain" until DHX adopted the name company-wide, after which it adopted its current name in 2019. The division has also entered into partnerships with other parties to manage their digital properties. The WildBrain Spark channel is among the largest children's channels on YouTube, and accounted for $70 million of WildBrain's revenue in 2019.
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WildBrain's current library includes:
- Cookie Jar Group and its predecessor Cinar, including programs such as the first 15 seasons of Arthur, Caillou, and Johnny Test, it also includes the libraries of:
- DIC Entertainment (excluding some co-productions such as The Real Ghostbusters, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Kissyfur, Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures)
- FilmFair including various Paddington Bear series and specials and other UK animated programs.
- Twelve family feature films by Leucadia Film Corporation, which were acquired by Cinar in 1999.
- Coliseum Entertainment
- Echo Bridge Home Entertainment's family program library including productions from Alliance Atlantis and Salter Street Films.
- Epitome Pictures, including the library of its predecessor Playing With Time Inc.
- Iconix Brand Group's entertainment assets including
- Peanuts Worldwide (41%), a joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment Japan and Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, including all Peanuts television specials and three television series
- The Strawberry Shortcake brand, including television specials in the 1980s, the 2003 television series and a direct-to-video film.
- Nerd Corps Entertainment, including Dragon Booster, Rated A for Awesome and Slugterra, excluding co-productions such as Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 and Blaze and the Monster Machines.
- Ragdoll Worldwide, including Rosie and Jim, Brum, Teletubbies and In the Night Garden..., excluding the rights to Pob's Programme and Playbox.
- Studio B Productions, including the first 4 seasons of Martha Speaks and Kid vs. Kat, but excluding the rights to co-productions such as My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, George of the Jungle (2007), and The Legend of Frosty the Snowman.
- The first incarnation of WildBrain, including Yo Gabba Gabba!, excluding co-productions with other companies and co-productions by WildBrain's predecessor companies Colossal Pictures and BIG Pictures.
- Global distribution rights to Mattel (including HIT Entertainment) programs including Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Little People and Polly Pocket.
- "Contact Us". WildBrain.
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- "Corus Entertainment snaps up Disney content from DHX Media, plans to launch Disney channel in Canada". Financial Post. Postmedia Network. April 16, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
- "Family Channel's new teen block F2N launches January 4 with the premiere of Degrassi: Next Class" (Press release). CNW. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
- "DreamWorks Animation Inks Strategic Content Pact With DHX Media". Deadline.com. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
- Bradshaw, James (2015-12-16). "DHX Media, Mattel cement long-term partnership". Retrieved 2017-11-07.
- "DHX Media unveils online kids net WildBrain". Kidscreen. April 25, 2016. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
- "DHX Media signs distribution deal with Air Bud Entertainment". Licensing.biz. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
- "DHX Media Acquires 'Peanuts' in $345 Million Purchase of Iconix". Variety. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
- "Children's programmer DHX puts itself on the block". The Globe and Mail. 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
- Mitchell, Robert (2018-05-14). "Sony Acquires Stake in DHX Media's 'Peanuts' for Global Partnership". Variety. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
- "DHX sells Peanuts stake to Sony to help reduce debt load". The Globe and Mail. 2018-05-14. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
- "DHX Media shifts strategy toward digital as young viewers' TV habits change". Retrieved 2018-10-02.
- "DHX selling Halifax animation studio". Kidscreen. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
- "Former DHX boss acquires Halifax animation studio". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
- "DHX splits company into two subsidiaries". Kidscreen. February 12, 2019. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
- White, Peter (2019-08-30). "'Teletubbies' Owner DHX Media Appoints Former Marvel Chief Eric Ellenbogen As CEO". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
- "DHX rebrands as WildBrain". Kidscreen. September 23, 2019. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
- "King Features bolsters licensing team, joins WildBrain". Kidscreen. May 23, 2018. Retrieved 2019-09-25.
- "WildBrain to manage Turner YouTube nets". TBI Vision. 2017-01-06. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
- "WildBrain adds Smurfs, Playmobil to portfolio". Kidscreen. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
- Bhayani, Rahim (2019-10-20). "Buy This 1 Stock That Is Sure to Benefit From the Video-Streaming Wars". The Motley Fool Canada. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
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- "Cookie Jar, DIC Entertainment to Merge". Broadcasting & Cable. 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
- "COOKIE JAR ENTERTAINMENT EXPANDS BRAND PORTFOLIO, TALENT AND GLOBAL REACH WITH CLOSING OF DIC TRANSACTION". Cookie Jar Group. 2008-07-23. Archived from the original on 2009-05-31. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- "CINAR Completes Acquisition of FilmFair" (Press release). CINAR Films, Inc. 26 November 1996. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
- Kelly, Brendan (February 9, 1999). "Cinar gets library, grows Viacom pact". Retrieved January 1, 2017.
- "DHX MEDIA ACQUIRES LIBRARY OF CHILDREN'S AND FAMILY TV CONTENT". DHX Media.
- "DHX Media Acquires 'Degrassi' Producer Epitome". www.dhxmedia.com. DHX Media. Archived from the original on April 14, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
- Houpt, Simon. "DHX Media Buys Degrassi TV Studio". www.theglobeandmail.com. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- "Canada's DHX Media to Acquire Nerd Corps". Toonzone. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
- "Teletubbies owner bought by Canadian firm DHX Media". The Guardian (London). 16 September 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
- DHX Media (December 4, 2007). "DHX Media acquires Studio B Productions Inc" (Press release). Canada Newswire. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
- Ball, Ryan (December 5, 2007). "DHX Media Acquires Studio B Prods". Animation Magazine. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
- Loveday, Samantha (December 4, 2007). "DHX Media buys up Studio B". Licensing.biz. Archived from the original on 2011-02-07. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
- "DHX Media and Mattel Launch Partnership on Kids Content". DHX Media. Retrieved July 2, 2017.