Here’s some interesting news…

Viacom, has acquired the rights to Paws, Inc – the company that owns comic book characters, Garfield and U.S. Acres (aka Orson’s Farm). According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal includes global merchandising, as well as ‘location-based experiences’, and will see the arrival of a new Garfield TV show on Nickelodeon.

In a statement, Viacom Media Networks COO Sarah Levy, said:

“Great content is core to the strength of our brands, and Garfield is a beloved character that continues to be part of the cultural zeitgeist with universal resonance across all ages.

“The acquisition of Paws, Inc. provides another opportunity for Viacom to leverage our platforms to extend the global reach of iconic IP.”

Nickelodeon President, Brian Robbins, said:

“This acquisition marks another step in our evolution toward being kids’ first stop for the best new content and characters, so we’re incredibly happy to have Garfield join our growing roster of globally loved franchises and to introduce this cool cat to a new generation of fans.”

Created by cartoonist, Jim Davis, Garfield is a hugely successful character who has fronted cartoons, a range of toys, and two live-action movies. Between 2004 and 2006 those movies alone brought in almost $350 million dollars, so this is a huge acquisition for Viacom/Nickelodeon with a lot of potential.

Image: ©Paws, Inc/Viacom

In recent years, Nickelodeon has made a success of buying existing properties, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand which it acquired in 2009 from the Mirage Group. That deal led to the development of two animated shows, two live-action movies (with a third on the way) and a HECK OF A LOT of toys.

So, why is Viacom/Nick picking up properties like Garfield and TMNT?

It’s simple really – just like Disney, Netflix and the like, as the digital landscape evolves, Nickelodeon wants to remain an important player in the TV/film landscape. Established and well-loved properties such as these, which already have a built-in fan base, can bring in (and maintain) audiences.

Garfield also feels like a good fit for Nickelodeon and should slot in well amongst globally recognised names like SpongeBob SquarePants and Power Rangers. It’ll be interesting to see what Viacom/Nickelodeon invests in next, to continue developing its portfolio.

Oh and for those wondering about Davis, the cartoonist will remain a part of Garfield‘s life. Davis will continue to draw Garfield comic strips.

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