It’s a big change for Universal Partnerships & Licensing President Stephanie Sperber: A year after she extended her contract into 2016, the company said today that her turf will expand to include merchandise deals for NBC and Sprout properties. The change, giving her titles such as The Biggest Loser and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, is designed to “bring scale and impact with licensees and retailers to benefit all of our film and TV properties,” Universal Filmed Entertainment Chairman Jeff Shell says. The company credits Sperber for leading licensed merchandise efforts for Universal’s Despicable Me 2 among other things. UP&L is particularly eager to make deals for Sprout. NBCUniversal took full control of the children’s network last year when it bought out partners including PBS. It hopes to make a splash in the licensing world as it introduces original programs and, as the company put it, “expands the reach of its beloved brand icon, Chica.” Other priorities include programs to promote Universal’s planned 2015 tent poles led by Pitch Perfect 2, Fast & Furious 7, Jurassic World and Minions. Hasbro is already on board to handle Jurrasic World toys, and Thinkaway Toys will be global master toy licensee for Minions.
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