Earlier today,the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York filed documents granting the sale of several of 4Kids’s assets to a joint bid by Saban’s Kidsco Media Ventures, LLC and Konami’s 4K Acquisition Corp. 4Kids curried the idea of a joint bid after a June 5 auction for the company’s assets, which led to an agreement between the three organizations on Sunday.
The final Asset Purchase Agreement was filed with the court on June 24, outlining the bid. According to the agreement, the purchase price of the total assets amounted to “Fifteen Million One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($15,000,000).” A clarifying document has yet to be filed, though the flat $15 million figure was cited in other places in the purchase agreement.
According to the agreement, Konami will gain the rights to the YuGiOh! anime franchise, which includes the following:
- Internet domain names
- Website assets
- Print publications published by 4Kids
- Music and sound recording rights
In addition, the company will the following items from 4Kids’s New York offices:
- Office furniture
- Recording and editing equipment
- Undisclosed machinery
Kidsco will gain the rights to the CW Network’s Saturday Morning programming block, and its attached terms. In addition, the company acquired the rights to the following:
- Dragon Ball Z: Agreement with Toei Animation and FUNimation
- Cubix: Agreement with Daiwon C & A Holdings, Cinepix, and East Japan Marketing & Communications
- Sonic X: Agreement with TMS Entertainment
Both companies managed to realize major gains from the 4Kids sale. Konami, in particular, has become somewhat of a point of interest in this, since their acquisition of Yu-Gi-Oh! means that the company will once again hold all domestic rights to the franchise.
Well… kind of.
In Japan, Konami is the primary licensor for the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. The Yu-Gi-Oh! TV series is a licensed property by TV Tokyo, ADK, and Nihon Ad Systems. In the west, though Konami is the licensor for Yu-Gi-Oh! merchandise and the card game, they will be but a licensee of the anime series, as they are bound to the terms of 4Kids’s license. In this sense, it means that Konami will be required to pay Japanese licensors TV Tokyo, ADK, and Nihon Ad Systems, who will then kick a percentage back to Konami Japan for the rights to create and distribute the property. So, in essence, they will be licensing their own franchise, and paying themselves indirectly for the right to use it.
Are you lost yet? Good.
Kidsco’s gains grant Saban a new foothold into the American industry. The licenses with CW will grant the company a pre-baked audience to consume the company’s properties, which include the three that were acquired in the purchase agreement. The company holds a number of profitable titles that they can leverage in the immediate aftermath of the purchase agreement, which include Power Rangers, which was purchased from Disney in 2010, and Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, which reverted to Saban a few months ago.
I don’t doubt that 4Kids and Saban will work out some deal to ensure a venue for Yu-Gi-Oh!, since it is a valuable asset both as a brand-building tool and an advertisement for Konami’s numerous products. It would be a mutual benefit to air the show, due to the existing audience that guarantees ad dollars for Saban and a combination of a token payment and cheap marketing for Konami.
Likewise, I wouldn’t be shocked to see news reports begin rolling in which state that Saban is shopping for new titles to fill opening slots in the block. Haim Saban is a savvy individual, with both knowledge and experience that should see the company fare well in the market. His heavily-edited productions rarely score brownie points with the typical core markets, but the potential to offset their anger with a far larger, more liquid market has the potential to ripple through the greater industry.
Of course, this is, as always, mere speculation. We have no concrete details on what either entity will do with their newly-gained assets, nor do we know how things will change from 4Kids’s products, if they change at all. We will simply have to continue to look forward, and see if either group gives up some hint, some sliver of information that will tell us how they will proceed.