Entertainment Rights Plc was a global media company. Its main business was in children's and family television programming. The group was established in 1989 as Sleepy Kids; it was renamed in 1999 to Entertainment Rights and was focused on the creation and exploitation of major children's characters and brands. On 1 April 2009 Entertainment Rights was acquired by Boomerang Media, which was formed by the founders of subsidiary Classic Media. In May 2009, Entertainment Rights and its subsidiaries and offices were absorbed into Classic Media, later on July 23, 2012 Classic Media was purchased by DreamWorks Animation and as of April 28, 2016, DreamWorks Animation (including DreamWorks Classics) will be acquired by NBCUniversal.
The company began life as Sleepy Kids Plc, also called The Sleepy Kids Co. Ltd., which was founded in 1989 by Martin and Vivien Schrager-Powell to produce Potsworth & Co., a children's animated series the pair created. The company was in partnership with Hanna-Barbera, and within a few months of its inception, it was floated on the stock exchanges. Sleepy Kids later went on to co-produce Dr. Zitbag's Transylvania Pet Shop and Budgie the Little Helicopter.
Between 1998 and 1999 the company expanded rapidly. It acquired Siriol Productions and merged with The Richard Digance Card Co, Clipper Films Ltd. and Ridgeway Films Ltd. in December 1998. During 1999, Boom Boom Ltd.—the owners of Basil Brush, Carrington Productions International—owner of a library of children's animation films from Ventureworld Films, and Dr. Zitbag's Transylvania Pet Shop were all bought as part of a long-term plan to build a substantial business owning intellectual property rights.
The company was renamed to SKD Media just after these takeovers. A year later the company was renamed to Entertainment Rights.
The company expanded by acquiring rights to properties from other studios such as Woodland Animations, Varga London, Link Entertainment, Hibbert Ralph Entertainment, Little Entertainment Co. and the Maddocks Animation library in 2001. In 2004 they acquired Tell-Tale Productions and most of the rights to the Filmation library from Hallmark Entertainment. At the end of 2004, Entertainment Rights employed on average 95 people. The company reported on 30 June 2005 that its turnover was £12.4 million. The company also tried to take over Chorion but the offer was rejected.
In 2005, a management buyout of Siriol Productions occurred; it was renamed Calon. The deal included all current projects and some of the back catalogue, but most of the rights of previously made programmes continued to be held by Entertainment Rights. On 14 December 2006, Entertainment Rights announced it would acquire Classic Media for US$210 million (£106.9 million). The deal was completed on 11 January 2007. Before the acquisition of Classic Media by Entertainment Rights was completed, both companies announced distribution and production agreements with Genius Products, LLC.
In December 2008, the company appointed of Deborah Dugan, former president of Disney Publishing Worldwide, as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This was part of a number of management changes to remedy cashflow problems and allow the company to operate on a more stable footing. By January 2009 the company had cut a third of its staff and its market value collapsed from £267 million in March 2007 to just £5.5 million. By February 2009, six companies had enquired about buying Entertainment Rights. Also at the start of February, Entertainment Rights was fined £245,000 by the Financial Services Authority for failing to inform shareholders of "a potential $14 million earnings hit in a timely manner".
This resulted in the company going into Administration on 1 April 2009. Within days, Boomerang Media acquired all Entertainment Rights subsidiaries—ER, Big Idea and Classic Media, which resolved all outstanding problems around the company. Boomerang Media was created by former owners of Classic Media until it was sold to Entertainment Rights in 2006.