03/23/17: t’s time for new kids company Pocketwatch; Telemundo brings kids to VOD; Cartoon serious about STEAM initiatives



CYNOPSISKIDS
03.23.17

Good morning. It’s Thursday March 23, 2017 and this is your first early morning Kids briefing.

NEWS OF THE WEEK

The time is right. Albie Hecht, Jon Moonves and Chris Williams are launching Pocketwatch, a media brand that creates, acquires, distributes and curates content initially for the K2-11 market. Pocketwatch – which also announced closing a $6 million in Series A funding led by Third Wave Digital with participation from additional investors including Les Moonves (chairman of the Board, president, and CEO of CBS Corp.), Jon Landau (Oscar-winning producer of Avatar and Titanic), United Talent Agency, Robert Downey Jr. (Downey Ventures) and Chris Jacquemin (partner/head of digital media, WME) – is slated to launch this summer. The company is seeking to partner with kids content creators across all platforms, with an eye to the YouTube universe. Williams, former chief audience officer at Maker Studios and GM of Disney Online Originals, will serve as CEO; Hecht, former head of Nickelodeon, will be chief content officer; and Moonves, a dealmaker who’s worked with Apple and the NFL, among others, will serve as chief strategy officer. Matt Geilen, founder of Little Monster Media Co. and the former VP of programming and audience development at Federator Networks, is on board to consult exclusively in the kids’ space for the company.

CynKids Exclusive: Telemundo is bringing children’s programming to its on-demand service for the first time. In a partnership with kids entertainment and education company Atencion Atencion, Telemundo On Demand beginning this week is offering five seasons of the like-named series plus two complementary concerts. Atencion Atencion combines live-action storytelling centered on a musical band, and animated elements to delve into topics ranging from behavior and character to the environment to math and the arts. “The lessons are all told through music, games and stories, and with these really engaging characters,” Francisco Rivera, VP, emerging business, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, tells Cynopsis. Internal research showed 65 percent of the Telemundo audience wants children’s VOD content, Rivera says. “They want children’s content that is educational, keeps them engaged and brings some positive messaging,” he says. Telemundo runs a three-hour children’s block on Saturday mornings, but Rivera says VOD can provide even more stickiness. “Our children watch a substantial amount of TV, yes, but they also like to consume content on demand, and they tend to like to see their same favorite content many times.” The series already has a strong following in territories including Puerto Rico, Panama and the Dominican Republic. “We think it’s a great time to make this content available to all of the U.S.,” Rivera says, “not only for Hispanics, but it can help non-Hispanic parents introduce their kids to Hispanic-language content.”

Its programming may be geared for laughs, but Cartoon Network is serious about engaging its young fans in STEAM activities and empowering them to create their own stories around Cartoon IP across platforms. ýSVP, marketing and partnerships Jill King tells Cynopsis that since the network launched its multiplatform series Mighty Magiswords, 35 percent of kids who watch the show also interact with the app and collect swords. “So we’ve developed a whole community around it and recently started hosting Collect-a-Thons on weekends where they can collect more swords and share [stories],” she says. “Kids in this maker generation expect to participate, they expect to be able to express themselves through their favorite IP.” The network is also evolving its Powerpuff Girls franchise to embrace STEAM elements. In researching girls’ decisions to pursue computer science as an area of interest, “a key insight we found was they didn’t necessarily think it was collaborative, so we made a significant commitment to break down stereotypes that exist.” Those include a storyline where Bubbles is a coder and brainstorms with her sisters to solve complex problems, and a collaboration with online coding platform Scratch Labs that includes a tutorial where young viewers can learn to make characters fly onscreen.

As part of the club’s “Calling All Kids” initiative, the Boston Red Sox will premiere 30-minute animated show Wally’s Opening Day on April 2, the eve of Red Sox opening day. The special is aimed at K4-8 and features Wally the Green Monster scrambling to get Fenway Park ready for Opening Day after he misses his ride back home from spring training and a freak spring snowstorm rolls in (talk about art imitating life). The show will make its broadcast debut on NESN at 5p April 2 and be available on Xfinity On Demand, redsox.com, and the MLB.com Ballpark app starting April 3. The project is the first time a Major League Baseball club has produced an animated TV show in its market. Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants) voices Wally, and other guest talent includes Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), H Jon Benjamin (Bob’s Burgers, Archer) and Lenny Clarke (Rescue Me). The show is presented by ’47 Brand with support from Red Sox partners Xfinity On Demand and New England Ford Dealers. The special was created by Take The Cake Productions in association with Hero4Hire Creative, and produced by Linda Henry.


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DEVELOPMENT & PRODUCTION

Boat Rocker and Industrial Brothers are moving ahead with their new original multiplatform brand Kingdom Force. The companies selected Fisher-Price as the master toy partner for the series, created by Matt Fernandes of Industrial Brothers and co-produced by Industrial Brothers and Boat Rocker. Boat Rocker will oversee multiplatform IP development for the property, distribute it internationally, and manage the merchandise and licensing for the brand on all platforms. The early-stage partnership with Fisher-Price enables the partners to collaborate on development. Kingdom Force is a team of fearless animals who fight disaster and protect their community with the help of their individual rescue vehicles that transform into a giant super robot.
 
Wind Dancer Films, which entered the children’s TV space in 2016 with Ready Jet Go! on PBS Kids, is prepping a second season of Ready Jet Go! and unleashing a full slate of new animated and live-action projects for kids and families with partners including Carin Greenberg (Tumble Leaf, Lalaloopsy, Octonauts), Tod Mesirow and Craig Bartlett (Ready Jet Go!) Among new projects are:
* The World Wide Webbers  An animated pilot for K4-8 designed to spark interest in literacy and geography. Created by Kim Berglund, a 15-year kids entertainment veteran.
* Not A Box  Writer/showrunner Greenberg is penning the script for a pilot that adapts Antoinette Portis’ book for the small screen.  
* Hello, I Love You  Canadian production house Muse Entertainment (Life of Pi, Being Human) is partner on this live-action TV movie and series for tweens.
* An animated feature film for family audiences, with writer Robert Zappia (Christmas Is Here Again, Tom & Jerry)
* A live-action comedy series about friends who form a secret group and adopt a unique approach to solving tween problems, with YA author Elise Allen (Gabby Duran book series) and Corey Powell (Doc McStuffins, My Little Pony)
* A “maker” influenced CG-animated series for preschoolers with Kid Glove exec producer Brenda Wooding (SheZow, Space Racers)
* The Wilde Family, an animated preschool science series created by Rachel Lipman (Splash & Bubbles, Ready Jet Go) and Joe Purdy (Dinosaur Train, Ready Jet Go)
* A live-action series about cars, with Mesirow, Robot Body Inc. (Mythbusters, Top Gear)

Disney Junior is revving up its programming schedule. The mini Mouse ordered a second season of Mickey and the Roadster Racers, and a third season of The Lion Guard.  Since its January premiere, Mickey and the Roadster Racers has reached more than 41 million viewers nationwide.

WOW! Unlimited Media has a spate of new productions in the works. In a new deal with Amazon Studios, its Frederator Studios got the greenlight to produce Costume Quest, aimed at the K6-11 market and based on the videogame series by Double Fine productions and the world originally created by Tasha Sounart. Series is exec-produced by Will McRobb (The Adventures of Pete & Pete) who also serves as story editor, as well as WOW Unlimited Media’s Fred Seibert (The Fairly OddParents), Kevin Kolde (Adventure Time) and Eric Homan (Adventure Time). Also in the works from WOW! is a partnership with the Weinstein Co. to produce Spy Kids: Mission Critical, a Netflix original animated series based on the film franchise Spy Kids and due out in 2018. WOW!’s Mainframe Studios is rebooting the original ReBoot, under the new title ReBoot: The Guardian Code, and producing eps to be broadcast on the Corus Network with Nelvana picking up worldwide distribution and licensing rights. Mainframe Studios is also in production on hourlong special Barbie Dolphin Magic. The studio has produced more than 30 animated Barbie movies with Mattel during the past 17 years.

Additionally, WOW! company Rainmaker Studios is working with Awesometown Entertainment on their upcoming animated feature film Elliot: The Littlest Reindeer, and Frederator Digital has greenlighted new seasons of YouTube series 107 Facts in April 2017, and Cartoon Conspiracy for June 2017.

London-based CAKE and Australian animation producer Studio Moshi are partnering in new animation house Gingerbread Animation, based in Dublin. Gingerbread Animation will produce and developing its own original projects as well as offer creative and production services to third parties.

AWARDS SHOW WATCH

Kelsea Ballerini, Alessia Cara, and Broadway’s Hamilton star and Hollywood Records recording artist Jordan Fisher are scheduled to perform at the 2017 Radio Disney Music Awards Saturday, April 29 in LA and airing on Disney Channel Sunday, April 30 at 8p. Ballerini and Fisher are also two of the five hosts named for the fifth anniversary show.

Nickelodeon scored with the John Cena-hosted 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards. The broadcast on Saturday, March 11 at 8p secured the top spot for the week with K2-11 (6.4/1.8 million), K6-11 (8.1/1.4 million) and Tweens 9-14 (5.7/1 million), marking the program’s biggest year over year gains with K6-11 (+5%) in 10 years. 

COMING UP

Discovery Family will trot out the seventh season of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with back-to-back episodes on Saturday, April 15 at 11:30a. This season, fans will be introduced to new characters with surprising family ties to the franchise’s iconic Mane 6 ponies – Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Apple Jack, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. Guest stars William Shatner (Star Trek) and Felicia Day (Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) join the cast for a very special episode in late summer. Series is produced by Hasbro Studios for Discovery Family, with Stephen Davis exec-producing for Hasbro Studios.

Disney XD will premiere the back half of Mech-X4 season 1 beginning April 17 at 7a. Premieres will have multiple plays throughout the day and new episodes will continue to roll out Mondays-Thursdays until the finale on May 1.

DIGITAL DOINGS

Fisher-Price and BabyFirst are partnering to produce short parenting tip videos that will premiere on the BabyFirst broadcast network and on both brands’ digital and social channels beginning on March 20. The series focuses on topics on all aspects of development, including sleep and bedtime rituals, language skill development, achieving physical developmental milestones and building emotional literacy. The 30 60-second videos will air throughout the day on BabyFirst during peak co-viewing times, and will also be featured monthly on both company’s social channels and housed in a playlist on the Fisher-Price YouTube channel.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Hello Julia: After five years in consultation with 250-plus organizations within the autism community, Sesame Workshop is bringing a Muppet with autism to the small screen, accompanied by a variety of resources designed to serve autistic children and their families and increase awareness and understanding of autism. Julia, who was introduced in digital form last year, will debut on TV in a joint premiere April 10 on HBO and PBS Kids. The Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative now also includes complementary resources such as a “Meet Julia” Sesame Street segment, available on YouTube, HBO, PBS Kids and sesamestreet.org/autism; six new digital live-action segments featuring Julia, Elmo, and Abby Cadabby, available on YouTube and sesamestreet.org/autism; an ebook; and a free Sesame Street and Autism app.

The second annual WE Day, a global initiative that brings together speakers and performers to celebrate youth-led inspiration and leadership for an audience of primarily students and educators at various locals, is slated for Thursday, April 27.

Edinburgh International Film Festival will be the site of the UK premiere of Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3, on Sunday, June 25. The film’s story supervisor, Scott Morse, will present the film and host two additional screenings.



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RESEARCH

Common Sense Media is developing research-based guidelines on gender stereotypes in the media aimed at identifying which television shows and movies have “healthy” gender role models and avoid gender stereotypes or imbalanced gender roles. For a year, Common Sense conducted analyses, surveys and interviews with parents and kids to better understand what information they want – and feel is lacking – around media portrayals of gender. Among findings, 90 percent of Common Sense users say they think the ways movies and TV shows portray girls/women and boys/men influence how children see themselves and their gender (52 percent say they influence kids a great deal); 80 percent say they consider portrayals of girls/women and boys/men when choosing media for their child; and more than 75 percent say they are extremely concerned about violence against girls or women when they see it in movies or on TV.

EXECUTIVE MOVES

PBS named Sara Schapiro VP of Education, reporting to Lesli Rotenberg SVP/GM, children’s media and education. Schapiro most recently helped found Digital Promise, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit whose mission is to spur innovation and improve all Americans’ opportunity to learn. Prior to Digital Promise, Schapiro worked for the New York City Department of Education, Chicago Public Schools, the New Jersey Department of Education and Pearson.

Nickelodeon promoted Gemma Lawson to VP/design director, global creative, Nickelodeon Group. Lawson, based out of the brand’s London headquarters, joined Nick in 2012 and most recently held the title of senior design director, global creative.

Cheers,
Cathy Applefeld Olson
03.23.17

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group 

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