4Kids/Saban North American Broadcast Sublicense Tidbits
Published by 19 April 2012, 4:14 PM EDT

While the larger story is more relevant to the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, 4Kids’ proposed assets sale to (what appears to be) Saban-owned KidsCo Media Ventures LLC includes a couple interesting tidbits relating to Dragon Ball, and more specifically the North American TV broadcast of Kai.

(…) all of Seller’s rights under the Dragon Ball Term Sheet dated March 15, 2010 between 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. and Toei Animation Inc., represented by Funimation Productions, Ltd, as amended by a letter agreement dated February 16, 2011 (“DBZ Agreement”), relating to the Dragon Ball Z Kai series

(ddd) “Library Assets” means (i) 26 episodes of Cubix; (ii) 52 episodes of Viva Pinata; and (iii) 52 episodes of Dragon Ball Z, each episode of which is listed on Schedule 2.1(p).

Fans had noted how the CW4Kids/Toonzai broadcast of Dragon Ball Z Kai recently went back to the beginning of the series after concluding the second “season” at 52 episodes; it appears that this is all that 4Kids had licensed of the show thus far, as opposed to Nickelodeon and Nicktoons who had licensed and broadcast the entire run through the end of the Cell arc.

The situation somewhat brings things around full-circle for this portion of the series in North America, however — it was Saban that handled TV syndication for FUNimation back in 1996-1998 with the first two “seasons” of the English-dubbed Dragon Ball Z TV series, which consisted of approximately 68 episodes edited down to 53 episodes. It gets complicated with the “alternate” English dub in the 2000s created primarily for the European market, but what is often referred to as “the Ocean dub” was always just FUNimation themselves in charge, albeit out-sourcing voice, music, and distribution talent at the time to various other companies (Ocean Studios, Shuki Levy, Saban, Pioneer, etc.).

If this assets sale/transfer goes through according to plan, Saban will be in control of the same portion of the series (as well as a little further than before) they originally handled with FUNimation sixteen years ago, and with a similar overall situation: FUNimation in charge of actually producing the show, but working with other television networks and providers to get the show on the air.

To be clear, this is all sub-license talk for the TV broadcast of Kai — FUNimation themselves has primary control of the overall franchise (via Toei) in North America up through at least 2015.

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