May 10, 2022 - Economy

Scoop: Dr. Seuss working with bankers on value of lucrative IP

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the private company that manages the work of the late Theodor Seuss Geisel, has been in talks with bankers to conduct valuation exercises following recent sales of other children's content companies, according to two sources familiar with its efforts.

Why it matters: Dr. Seuss Enterprises is one of the most prized collections of intellectual property in the world, and nearly every major Hollywood heavyweight is likely to show interest.

  • Dr. Seuss is the No. 1 literary license in the U.S. by print sales, according to data from NPD BookScan. It sells more copies than any other IP-based book, including for both children and adults, as Axios has reported.
  • Dr. Seuss' works are used in movies, merchandise, theme parks and experiences around the world.

Details: Dr. Seuss Enterprises is a notoriously private group that's long held out on sales talks. But as other major kids-focused production and intellectual property companies begin to sell, it's looking to understand its options and market value.

  • Sources say a sale is not imminent, but that the sale of Roald Dahl Story Company to Netflix in September prompted Dr. Seuss Enterprises to begin exploring possibilities.
  • Dr. Seuss Enterprises did not comment.

Some of the obvious bidders for Dr. Seuss Enterprises include Comcast and Warner Bros. Discovery.

  • Comcast is home to NBCUniversal's theme parks and resorts. Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in Florida includes an exhibition called Seuss Landing, which features dozens of Seuss-themed rides and attractions.
  • Warner Animation Group has a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to produce feature films based on Seuss characters and stories.

Other major streamers are also likely to look into the asset. Netflix announced five new animated series and specials based on Dr. Seuss books in March. Amazon is reportedly developing a baking competition series inspired by Dr. Seuss books.

The big picture: Companies that sit on valuable troves of kids entertainment are starting to cash in as the demand for original streaming content, especially for kids, skyrockets.

  • Moonbug Entertainment, the U.K.-based digital content company that's home to the YouTube streaming hit "CoComelon," sold for roughly $3 billion last year to an unnamed media company backed by Blackstone and led by former Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer.
  • Roald Dahl Story Company, the U.K.-based firm that owns and manages the rights of the storied works of the late British author Roald Dahl, was acquired by Netflix in September for a reported price of over $600 million.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks owner Bagdasarian Productions has engaged in sale talks, per CNBC, including with big streamers like ViacomCBS.

Go deeper: Dr. Seuss surges back a year after books were shut down

Disclosure note: Comcast is an investor in Axios.

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