Profits peak as Peppa picks up pace across the pond

The porcine princess has done wonders for creator Entertainment One, leaving childhood stalwarts like Thomas the Tank Engine playing catch-up...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 24 Oct 2011
Peppa Pig’s oink may be about to develop a mid-Atlantic twang, as she continues her conquest of US kids’ telly. The petite porcine with a penchant for jumping in puddles has apparently gained more than 500,000 fans since her launch across the pond in February, reportedly catapulting her into the top 10 pre-school shows in the US. In itself, that’s oinking brilliant – but for her creators, Entertainment One, that can only mean one thing: plenty of profits…

Peppa passion has apparently boosted pre-tax profits for the Toronto-based company – which also owns the distribution rights to fellow money-spinners the Twilight saga and Gnomeo & Juliet – up by almost 40% to £32.3m in the year to the end of March. Revenues also rose, by 12.1% to £469.7m, while debts dropped by £24.6m to £38.6m. Which, said CEO Darren Throop, made it a ‘good, solid year’.

In the entertainment game, though, the real money-spinners aren’t movies and tv shows, but the merchandising that goes with them – and it looks like EO has already made a killing with its Peppa range (which includes soft toys, playsets and something called an Aquadoodle. Nope, we’re not sure, either). Having flogged £200m worth of toys in the UK, Peppa is now the fourth-highest selling character toy in the UK – which puts her above Thomas the Tank Engine and, more importantly for feminism, the Disney Princesses.

And that trend shows no sign of abating: according to this morning’s Daily Mail, Throop is on the brink of securing a US licensing agreement which will see Peppa, George and Mummy and Daddy Pig all hitting malls in time for Christmas next year. Which could, according to analysts, push US toy sales as high as $1bn (£620m).

Of course, Peppa is by no means the first British cartoon character to conquer the US. Remember Bob the Builder? And the Teletubbies? All came, saw, conquered – and then disappeared rapidly as their fans grew up, leaving their distributors (in Bob the Builder’s case, at least) heavily in debt. So let’s hope Throop – and Peppa – don’t make a ham-fisted job of it.

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