Sesame Street is the most famous educational program in the world. Broadcast for 35 years, it is loved by people in 120 countries worldwide. Sesame Street has been a favorite in Japan for the last 30 years since it started broadcasting in 1971. In April of this year, Sesame Street is starting an entirely new and innovative business in Japan.
Sesame Street Partners Japan (SSPJ) was founded in order to develop a new business based on Sesame Street's core concepts and possibility.
• SSPJ Summary
In conjunction with Sesame Workshop (New York / CEO: Gary E. Knell), who holds the original rights to Sesame Street, SSPJ is a consortium composed of five Japanese companies, including Asatsu-DK (HQ in Tokyo Chuo-ku /CEO: Koichiro Naganuma), WE'VE (HQ in Tokyo Chiyoda-ku /CEO: Tetsuya Suzuki), Japan Keizai Company (HQ in Tokyo Chuo-ku /CEO: Syunji Sakuma), TV Tokyo Broadband (HQ in Tokyo Minato-ku /CEO: Kouji Kamibayashi) and Odyssey Communications (HQ in Tokyo Chiyoda-ku /CEO: Katsuya Debari). SSPJ has almost all of the rights as Sesame Street Japan. The consortium has agreed upon a business plan which will be suitable to the Japanese educational environment.
• SSPJ Background
Sesame Workshop was established in 1968 as a non-profit organization. With funding from the US Department of Education and UNICEF and through partnerships with companies such as Merrill Lynch and Prudential, Sesame Workshop has continued to develop educational programs for children. Its innovative developments in children's educational programming are also largely supported by revenue from its character licensing business and have contract with more than 700 licensees worldwide. The results of cooperative efforts have been highly praised in the United States. Second only to Disney in popularity, Sesame Street is proud of its established reputation as the most popular products for both parents and children.
Broadcasting currently in over 120 countries and producing original content for children's education in 20 countries, Sesame Workshop's rare and unique education business has been highly successful.
For the last thirty years, Sesame Workshop has hoped to contribute to educational programs which would address various issues experienced by Japanese children. They hoped to establish these goals by means of an innovative business model. Grounding its work in research, Sesame Workshop collaborates with local educators and child development experts to create relevant age-appropriate content for children in country. Now with the establishment of SSPJ, which is based on Sesame Street's core beliefs, these goals have finally been realized.
Not only will the new Japanese Sesame Street programs contain anti-illiteracy educational content in English, but they will also contain Japanese-specific content to help understand lifestyles, family values, societal rules and global environmental issues.
• Future Business Plan in Japan:
The key factors of SSPJ's business plan to make the most effective use of the Sesame Street property in the educational contents field are outlined below.
1) New Localized Programs
SSPJ is creating new television programs in cooperation with Sesame Street making use of the accumulated skill and know-how gained over the last thirty-five years. SSPJ has already completed a conference with educators in Japan to establish the educational goals and purposes for this project. Since the middle of March, auditioning for muppeteer characters has been underway.
ELMO, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and other popular characters will continue to be part of the programming. In addition, we are creating Japanese original characters in the future. Production will be handled by Kyodo Television. SSPJ plans on providing detailed information on the program's content in future announcements.
We are currently scheduled to broadcast on TV Japan in the fall of 2004.
2) Strong Media Mix
As we usher in this era of media, we have developed a systematic media mix strategy which includes magazines, newspapers, the internet, cell phones, radio and local retailers. Until now, we could not have accomplished such a systematic development strategy.
In addition, SSPJ is also planning on developing community educational activities, also known as "outreach". These activities have been encouraged in the United States since Sesame Street first began its programming. Programs will be based on the needs of society and the educational environment in Japan and will be implemented using television broadcasting know-how and various programming materials. Through its
partnership with local schools, teacher unions, government and major companies, Sesame Street is contributing to society and is widely regarded in the United States for its prominent role in community outreach.
One of Sesame Street's core objectives is to maximize the educational effects of the television media. SSPJ will search for the most effective media mix strategy in using Sesame Street's educational value to conform to the Japanese media and its educational environment.
3) Various Product Developments
SSPJ's basic business is built around profits from royalties as is the case with Sesame Street in the United States. The domestic awareness of Sesame Street in Japan is at 97%. Based on a market worth of 200 million dollars of other character products with the same 97% awareness level, SSPJ is projecting a market worth of 100 million dollars in its early stages.
Though a licensing company has yet to be decided, SSPJ is in negotiations with several prominent Japanese companies. As the products are not limited to toys, stationery goods and educational material but spans a wide and varied range of products, we are hoping to form as many partnerships as possible with various makers.
SSPJ also has plans to actively develop stores with its partner companies.
• About Sesame Street Partners Japan (SSPJ)
SSPJ will have exclusive rights to all media including broadcast, usage, merchandising, promotion, etc. (Portions of theme park rights are excluded.) SSPJ expects most of its profits from royalty fees generated through its merchandising businesses. As with Sesame Street in the United States, these profits will be used in Japan to develop children's educational programs.
SSPJ will not simply manage Sesame Street's media rights. Rather, the main portion of our business will be the implementation of a wide variety of marketing activities aimed at energizing Sesame Street's excellent brand image. Through these activities, we are sure that the know-how and skill of Asatsu-DK and WE'VE, both of whom have had years of experience in children's animation, will make SSPJ successful.
• About Sesame Workshop
Children's Television Workshop (CTW) was founded in 1968 in New York. (CTW later changed its name to Sesame Workshop.) With donations, mainly from the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation, founder Joan Ganz Cooney established Sesame Workshop as a nonprofit organization with approximately $8,000,000 (about thirty million yen).
The Workshop is committed to the principle that all children deserve a chance to learn and grow; to be prepared for school; to better understand the world and each other; to think, dream and discover; to reach their highest potential. (from the mission statement on the website)
Sesame Workshop's mission is to develop innovative and engaging educational contents in all kinds of media formats. Based on the belief that all children have the right to equal opportunity, Sesame Workshop is performing this mission through its use of media. Sesame Workshop believes that children deserve the chance to learn, to dream, to discover, and to reach their highest potential.
Sesame Workshop's programs and activities are based on the collaborative efforts of researchers, professional advisors and experts familiar with multimedia platforms and know how these may be used effectively to enhance a child's learning, growth and development. As a nonprofit, Sesame Workshop puts the proceeds it receives from sales of Sesame Street, Dragon Tales and Sagwa products right back into its educational projects for children around the world.
Sesame Workshop Homepage:
• About Sesame Street:
When Sesame Street first started airing in November 1969, it contained innovative content for its time. From an episode in which then-President Nixon sent a letter of appreciation to Sesame Street, there have been numerous episodes with innovative and varied subject matter. Even today, Sesame Street is highly respected all over the world and has won more than 91 Emmy awards.
The word, "Edutainment", a combination of "Education" and "Entertainment", was created from this television program.
Programs are designed in such a way that both parents and children feel safe and comfortable with the program's view of the world. The guests on the programs vary from big name Hollywood stars such as Billy Joel, Robert DeNiro, and Julia Roberts to representatives from the United Nations. Sesame Street has gone beyond the entertaining framework of television programming and has been firmly integrated into the educational system.
Of the programs being broadcasted in 120 countries worldwide, some programs are localized and adopted to the meet the language and educational needs of the specific country. 23 countries are participating in these co-productions. Since 2003, co-productions in Israel, Palestine and Jordan have resulted in 26 half hour episodes for each country. These programs are broadcast in both in Hebrew and Arabic. Production costs
for these Middle East versions of Sesame Street were supported by the European Union. Through their support, the European Commission has made it clear that through children's education peace in the Middle East can be a reality. Sesame Street's themes of "diversity and generosity" and "coexistence and understanding" coincide with society's ultimate goal of diplomatic relationships amongst all peoples. Sesame Street's programming has become more than just simply entertaining television.
For the last 30 years, Sesame Street has been extremely successful not only in broadcast television, but also in its theme parks, merchandising business and other various businesses.
The main characters, Elmo, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster are so loved in Japan they boast an impressive awareness level of 97%. Television viewers span three generations, breaking generation and gender barriers, making these characters truly unique in many ways.
Until the present, Sesame Street has been recognized as the symbol of English education programming in Japan. This year, however, Sesame Street will surely achieve revolutionary change in children's education as a whole.
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