DHX Media, Ltd., operating as WildBrain and formerly known as DHX Media, is a Canadian media production, distribution and broadcasting company. Formed in 2006 by the merger of Decode Entertainment and the Halifax Film Company, the company is the largest independent owner of children's television in the industry.
|Traded as||TSX: DHX|
|Industry||Television production, broadcasting|
Halifax Film Company
|Headquarters||5657 Spring Garden Road, Suite 505|
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Number of locations
Number of employees
Following a number of acquisitions, its library grew to include those of Cookie Jar Entertainment (which, in turn, consisted of the libraries of Cinar, DIC Entertainment, Coliseum and FilmFair), Epitome Pictures, Ragdoll Productions, Studio B Productions, the original incarnation of WildBrain, Nerd Corps Entertainment, and Colossal Pictures. DHX would also acquire a stake in the Peanuts franchise following its purchase of Iconix Brand Group's entertainment division in 2017.
In 2013, DHX entered the broadcasting industry with its acquisition of the Canadian specialty television channel Family Channel and its spin-off services from Astral Media as part of the latter company's acquisition by Bell Media.
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 derives from the combination of the names Decode and Halifax from the 2006 merger between Decode Entertainment and Halifax Film Company. Studio B Productions was acquired by and became a subsidiary of DHX Media on December 4, 2007.
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 WildBrain Entertainment.
On August 20, 2012, it was announced that DHX Media would acquire Cookie Jar Group for $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 executive 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 $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 the rights to 117 titles from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, the US distributor that owned the international distribution rights to Degrassi, Instant Star and The L.A. Complex, two other Epitome productions plus 117 children's and family series consisting of about 1,200 half-hours and another 34 series' distribution rights. 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., Family Chrgd, and Télémagino.
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 $345 million. The purchase gave DHX rights 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 $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 $185 million. The sale would be used to help cover DHX's debt.
In October 2018, DHX announced that it had 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. The company reported a year-over-year revenue of $434.4 million (up from $298.7 million in 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, the 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 announced that it had changed its name to "WildBrain", building upon the success of 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 studios. The official change in corporate name is subject to approval at its annual shareholder meeting.
- DHX Brands handles brand development, management and licensing, with offices in Toronto, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles and New York. As a part of the business, WildBrain maintains Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG), a licensing agency headquartered in London, United Kingdom, which became DHX's subsidiary in the process of the acquisition of Cookie Jar Entertainment, as well as an 80% stake in Peanuts Worldwide, LLC.
- WildBrain Distribution: WildBrain distributes television shows and specials within their library to various media platforms (including television and online), territory-by-territory. The company maintains distribution offices in Toronto, Beijing, Los Angeles and Paris, and a support team in Toronto.
- DHX Television: WildBrain operates three English-language television channels (Family Channel, Family Chrgd and Family Jr.) and one French-language channel (Télémagino) in Canada. Previously under Astral Media, DHX purchased the channels in 2013 as a result of Bell Media's acquisition of Astral in the same year.
- WildBrain Studios: WildBrain maintains a production studio in Vancouver, Canada, and formally operated 3 others.
- WildBrain Spark is a multi-channel network, based in London, England, and oriented towards digital children's content on services such as YouTube, including content relating to DHX's properties, as well as edutainment and toys (such as unboxing). 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 entered into partnerships with other parties to manage their digital properties, such as Turner Broadcasting (including digital outlets relating to the series LazyTown in the EMEA region, as well as a later partnership involving localized YouTube channels for several Cartoon Network series in Latin America and the UK) and Playmobil, with IPs including as Popeye and The Smurfs.
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 (whose home video rights are owned by Warner Home Video) and three television series (including one mini-series), excluding the rights to five feature films, which are held by ViacomCBS (through CBS and Paramount Pictures) and Walt Disney Studios (through 20th Century Fox).
- United Media Licensing, including Dilbert and Fancy Nancy.
- 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 Productions, 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.
- WildBrain Entertainment, including Yo Gabba Gabba!, excluding co-productions with other companies and co-productions by WildBrain's ancestor companies Colossal Pictures and BIG Pictures.
- Distribution rights to the Air Bud Entertainment library
- 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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