LOS ANGELES, Dec 12 (Reuters) - DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. has gained another shot at the market for TV cartoons under a new distribution deal with Paramount Pictures that was part of the Viacom-owned studio's successful bid for DreamWorks Animation's privately held sister company.
But analysts said that the year-old animation studio needs to learn from its experience from the expensive flop "Father of the Pride" in order to create a meaningful revenue stream from the new opportunity with Paramount.
The deal, reached late last week as part of the acquisition of privately held DreamWorks SKG Inc., calls for Viacom Inc's Paramount to produce at least one animated series every two years for Viacom's Nickelodeon TV channel, starring characters from DreamWorks' animated movies.
Nickelodeon will finance production but the other details have not been worked out, DreamWorks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg told Reuters on Monday.
"The intention is for them to build a meaningful presence of DreamWorks animated properties on Nickelodeon," Katzenberg said. He added that although the deal specified that future DreamWorks characters would be used," certainly 'Madagascar' and 'Shrek' offer great possibilities."
Nickelodeon is home to the hugely successful children's series, "Dora the Explorer," "Rugrats," and "SpongeBob Squarepants," which spawned a low-budget hit film last year.
"It's a big umbrella and it's nice to be under it," Katzenberg said. "There really is almost no ability if you don't own distribution (channels) to get your content on the air."
Although DreamWorks has promoted its films on the Viacom family of channels, including Nick at Nite, MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central, it has never had TV shows to support its films and merchandising operations.
That marks a sharp contrast from the marketing power of DreamWorks' rival Pixar Animation Studios Inc., whose hugely successful animated films are distributed by The Walt Disney Co., which plugs Pixar characters in its theme parks and on its TV shows.
Animation for the DreamWorks shows will be computer generated, and the studio will participate creatively in developing them, Katzenberg said. It was not yet clear where they would be made or when the first series would be launched.
"(Nickelodeon) is a place where they have extraordinary expertise," Katzenberg said. "They have great producers and writers under contract to them. We are in the hands of the most expert people at doing this."