“There does seem to be a lot of interest and a lot of opportunity” for the idea — and it’s something DreamWorks Animation is “actively talking about” with potential film distribution partners — CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told analysts in a conference call to discuss company earnings. He had virtually no details about the plan, or his efforts to strike a distribution deal to replace the one with Paramount that expires at the end of this year. He offered, though, that “self distribution is not something we are pursuing right now.”
But Katzenberg clearly wanted to impress analysts with the possibility of creating a channel following his recent $155M acquisition of Classic Media. “We have a bit of a gold mine here,” he says about Classic which has rights to baby boomer cultural icons including Archie, Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Lone Ranger, Lassie, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Gumby, Underdog, Fat Albert, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Godzilla, He-Man, Dick Tracy, Frosty the Snowman, and Mr. Peabody & Sherman. “This will go a long way toward helping us to realize the idea of a DreamWorks branded channel.” The thinking appears to be in the early stages: Katzenberg says he’s not sure if a channel might be designed for the Internet or for pay TV, whether it would be just for domestic audiences or also go overseas — or even how much the company is prepared to invest. “We are in aggressive exploration I would say.” He says that with the success of DreamWorks’ animated films overseas “the brand has really begun to come into its own and has real value…That creates the opportunity for us to create a branded family channel.” Katzenberg says he hasn’t put his check book away. “We will look to acquire other [intellectual property] that fits” with its own properties as well as Classic Media’s. The recent purchase “will have a significant impact on DreamWorks as a business going forward.” It wasn’t enough to take investors’ eye off of the company’s lackluster Q2 earnings. DreamWorks shares are -8.3% in after-market trading.