04/08/15: Google under fire from consumer groups over YT Kids app; First Lady goes Sunny Side Up; DHX grows distribution via Orchard deal; significant restructuring afoot at Sesame Workshop


Good morning. It’s Wednesday April 8, 2015, and this is your first early morning briefing.

A coalition of consumer advocacy groups is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s YouTube Kids app, claiming it violates rules about advertising to children. In a letter sent to the FTC yesterday, the coalition-including the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America and Public Citizen wrote the videos in the app “intermix commercial and other content in ways that are deceptive and unfair to children and would not be permitted to be shown on broadcast or cable television.”

In response, YouTube released the following statement: “We worked with numerous partners and child advocacy groups when developing YouTube Kids. While we are always open to feedback on ways to improve the app, we were not contacted directly by the signers of this letter and strongly disagree with their contentions, including the suggestion that no free, ad-supported experience for kids will ever be acceptable.” Launched in February, YouTube Kids contains videos from content providers including DreamWorks Animation, Jim Henson Co., National Geographic Kids, HiT Entertainment and Reading Rainbow.


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Entry Deadline: May 1, 2015
Late Submissions: May 8, 2015
Awards Event: September 18, 2015 (NYC)

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To celebrate the fifth anniversary of her "Let’s Move!" initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama will stop by Sprout’s Sunny Side Up Show on Friday, April 10, to participate in the #GimmeFive Challenge by dancing to a special edition of Sprout’s Birthday Song. The network is running healthy-themed songs, recipes, games and tips all week.

Music artists Fifth Harmony and Carly Rae Jepsen are among presenters at the 2015 Radio Disney Music Awards, which will air at 8p on Sunday, April 26, on Disney Channel, preceded by a half-hour red carpet preshow. Also presenting are actress Chelsea Kane (Baby Daddy), country artist Kelsea Ballerini, stars of Stars of ABC series black-ish and talent from Disney Channel Original Movie Teen Beach 2 including Grace Phipps, Garrett Clayton and Chrissie Fit.
Clarence is back on Cartoon Network with a week of all-new adventures every day this week at 5p. To support the return, CartoonNetwork.com released the online game The Awesomest Battle in History, where players can help Clarence stage a pretend battle with all his friends after learning about Vikings in class.

Nick News with Linda Ellerbee journeys to Cuba to explore what the new closer ties between the U.S. and Cuba means for children in new special So Close and Yet So Far Away: The Kids of Cuba, premiering Monday, April 13, at 8p on Nickelodeon.

Earth Day is just around the corner and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is celebrating with a nature-themed special ep, premiering April 20 on PBS Kids.


DHX Media is lining up some well-known British talent to voice the next generation of Teletubbies, which will return to CBeebies this year. Among new series elements is the Tubby Phone, voiced by Jane Horrocks, best known for playing Bubbles in Absolutely Fabulous. Also onboard is actor/comedian Daniel Rigby, who will narrate the show. Other voice actors include Fearne Cotton, Jim Broadbent and Antonia Thomas.

ABC reportedly is bringing The Muppets back to life after several decades off the small screen. Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady is co-writing the script for a possible straight-to-series variety show, according to several sources. Bob Kushell (Anger Management) will co-write and serve as showrunner; ABC Studios and Disney-owned Muppet Studios are producing.

Mondo TV Suisse and Aurora World Corp. will co-produce and distribute the fourth season of the animated TV series based on the brand Yoohoo and Friends, owned by Aurora. The series will be composed of 52 episodes about 11 minutes each, in 3D CGI, and is targeted for its debut at MipTV in Cannes on April 2015 for the launch of its distribution.


Looks like a Tanner family reunion may be on the books. Twenty years after sitcom Full House went off the air, Netflix reportedly wants to reboot the series under the title Fuller House. Although Netflix remains mum, sources say the remake would star original House mates Candace Cameron Bure, who played eldest daughter D.J. in the original series, and Andrea Barber, who played D.J.’s best friend. Guest stints from other original cast members are possible, including Dave Coulier, Bob Saget and John Stamos; Stamos is also said to be a producer on the remake.

DHX Media and music, video and film distributor The Orchard entered a multiyear electronic sell-through agreement through which The Orchard will distribute more than 8,000 episodes from the DHX library content plus newly produced and acquired series. The deal covers the U.S., Latin America, South Africa, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. DHX titles include Caillou, Yo Gabba Gabba!, Teletubbies, Inspector Gadget, SuperWHY! and Johnny Test. The Orchard also will be the worldwide digital distributor of more than 2,000 tracks of children’s music from DHX’s current library.

Guru Studio launched animated comedy Nemesis, which “mockuments” the rivalry between two cousins at school, with a spoofy take on YouTube videos. The Bell Media Fund pilot launched on Teletoon.com on April Fools’ Day, and audiences can vote for favorite characters, pranks and videos.

SVOD platform Oznoz.com will become the host of Splash Entertainment series Chloe’s Closet, Dive Olly Dive, Cosmic Quantum, Pet Alien, ToddWorld and The DaVincibles in numerous languages including Castillian and Neutral Spanish, French, Korean, Portuguese and Russian. This is the first time Splash’s library will be available for the U.S. audiences in this array of languages.

TotallyKidz, TotallyHer’s kids’ media business unit, signed an exclusive deal with online fashion game brand Stardoll.


Are you registered for the April 23rd reception yet?
Join Cynopsis at a reception celebrating honorees for its inaugural awards program, Top Women in Digital. This must-attend event recognizes excellence in digital content, marketing, advertising, social media + online.

Sponsored by TubeMogul, honorees will be applauded during an awards reception from 5-6:30 p.m. following the Digital Business Summit on Thursday, April 23 at the Astor Center in NYC.

Event space is limited for this much-anticipated reception… register your team today!.



9 Story Media Group acquired live-action series Look Kool and its French counterpart C’est Wow for distribution in the international marketplace. The educational, math-based series targets 6-9-year-olds and is produced by Apartment 11 Productions for TVOKids and TFO. Accompanied by cartoons and 3D effects, host Henry Hamza and his mischievous robot cat show viewers how geometry is in everything all around us, from roller coasters to Frisbees and ice cream cones.

MarVista acquired several family-friendly titles that will join its MIPTV premieres. New for kids and teens are My New Best Friend, a Foxfield Entertainment and Mystique Films Production and UP Premiere Movie about a girl who finds a friend in both a local police officer and his K-9 partner. Also, Kids vs Monsters, from Dark Dunes and starring Malcolm McDowell, Armand Assante, Lance Henriksen, Richard Moll and Francesca Eastwood about six teenagers tricked by their parents into going to a “reform school” run by monsters who are charged with dispatching of its students.


Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson isn’t only fast and furious. The actor will show off his softer side voicing Maiu, the male lead character, in Disney‘s animated musical Moana. Set for release in 2016, the 2D animated film is the story of a young woman who uses her navigational skills to find a fabled island.

Aimed at highlighting the craft of animation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present the series “An Animation Showcase: From Celluloid to CGI” April 24-May 29 in N.Y. The event kicks off with a presentation featuring animation studio Laika’s creative team behind the Academy Award-nominated Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012) and The Boxtrolls (2014). 

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is bringing her children’s nonprofit Lumos to the States. The Empire State Building tomorrow will be lit in the organization’s colors of purple, blue and white to support the organization’s close orphanages and reform social services for children.


Nelvana is now repping Saban Brands’ Power Rangers consumer products in France and has signed two new licensees: Sun City (T-shirts and sleepwear) and Viquel (back-to-school, stationery). The newest iteration of the Power Rangers series will debut in France on Gulli this fall.


Talk about reaching new heights. Cartoon Network series Adventure Time is soaring via a specially branded THAI Smile Airways plane, unveiled recently at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. The marketing stunt is the result of a partnership between the airline and the Cartoon Network Amazone theme park, and also includes an Adventure Time presence onboard the plane.

Breakthrough Entertainment educational series Science Max and Sports Lab are slated to debut in Canada on TVOKids.
Gaumont Animation secured sales for its animated CGI series Calimero with: Discovery Kids (Latin America), TiJI (Russia), TG4 (Ireland), RTBF (Belgium), Ketnet (Belgium), Zappelin (The Netherlands), Just4Kids (Benelux), Hop (Israel), Prava i Prevodi (Serbia) and RTV (Slovenia).

Rainbow’s third Winx Club movie, The Mystery of the Abyss, is set to hit cinemas in Greece throughout April.


The March 30 premiere of Disney XD original animated series Star vs. The Forces of Evil is the network’s No. 1 animated series debut in the net’s history, per L+3 ratings. The premiere pulled in 1.2 million total viewers, topping only the net’s October’s launch of Star Wars Rebels, with 1.1 million

Top 10 Basic Cable Ratings for the week of March 30-April 5, 2015

K2-11 Total Programming Day

K2-11 Prime (Monday  Sunday 8-11p.m.)

K2-11  (Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.)

K6-11 Total Programming Day

K6-11 Prime (Monday  Sunday 8-11p.m.)

K6-11  (Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.)

K9-14 Total Programming Day

K9-14 Prime (Monday  Sunday 8-11p.m.)

K9-14  (Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.)

Source: Disney from Nielsen Media Research National MIT, ranked on coverage ratings
Viewing Type: Live + Same Day

K2-11  Top 10 Programs for the week of March 16-22, 2105

3/20/15/PAW Patrol/NICK/12-12:30p/2264
3/19/15/Teen Titans Go!/TOON/6-6:30p/1557
3/21/15/SpongeBob’s Runaway Roadtrip/NICK/10:30-12p/1389
3/21/15/Bella and the Bulldogs/NICK/9-9:30p/1306
3/21/15/SpongeBob SquarePants/NICK/10-10:30a/1306
3/18/15/Teen Titans Go!/TOON/6:30-7p/1179
3/21/15/Power Rangers Dino Charge/NICK/12-12:30p/1139
3/21/15/SpongeBob SquarePants/NICK/9:30-10a/1132
3/19/15/Teen Beach Movie/DSNY/8-9:45p/1121
3/19/15/Teen Titans Go!/TOON/6:30-7p/1098

K6-11  Top 10 Programs for the week of March 16-22, 2015

3/19/15/Teen Titans Go!/TOON/6-6:30p/1160
3/21/15/Bella and the Bulldogs/NICK/9-9:30p/1131
3/19/15/Teen Beach Movie/DSNY/8-9:45p/903
3/21/15/Henry Danger/NICK/8-8:30p/887
3/21/15/The Thundermans/NICK/9:30-10p/864
3/21/15/Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn/NICK/8:30-9p/808
3/18/15/Teen Titans Go!/TOON/6:30-7p/800
3/21/15/SpongeBob SquarePants/NICK/10-10:30a/781
3/21/15/SpongeBob’s Runaway Roadtrip/NICK/10:30a-12p/778
3/22/15/Liv and Maddie/DSNY/8:30-9p/774

Source: Turner Research based on Total US Television Universe of 115,800,000 homes, Final Live+7.

Weekend box office estimates for the top-grossing kids/tween/teen movies rated G, PG or PG-13, provided by Rentrak for April 3-5, 2015:

Home (20th Century Fox) PG $27.01 million (weekend) $95.24 million (2-week cume)
Cinderella (Disney) PG $10.18 million (weekend) $167.14 million (3-week cume)
Divergent Series: The Insurgent (Lionsgate) PG-13 $10.13 million (weekend) $103.51 million (3-week cume)
Woman In Gold (The Weinstein Co.) PG-13 $2.09 million (weekend) $2.19 (1-week cume)
Do You Believe? (Pure Flix) PG-13 $1.54 million (weekend) $9.86 million (3-week cume)
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) PG $1.08 million (weekend) $30.14 million (5-week cume)


Sesame Workshop instituted a companywide reorganization under new CEO Jeffrey Dunn, including the appointment of four new executives: Steve Youngwood joins as COO; Sherrie Westin takes on the new role of EVP, Global Impact and Philanthropy; Brown Johnson joins as EVP/Creative Director; and Joseph Salvo is onboard as EVP/General Counsel. Youngwood most recently was EVP/GM, Digital Media & Entertainment Products at Nickelodeon, while Westin served as EVP/CMO of Sesame Workshop. Johnson previously served as President of Animation and Preschool Entertainment at Nickelodeon, and Salvo comes to the Workshop from HiT Entertainment, where he was General Counsel.

Jim Henson Co. hired Amy Takahara as Director, Global Distribution, Sales. She most recently was Manager of Distribution and Marketing at FremantleMedia Kids and Family Entertainment. Additionally, the company promoted Casie Friedman to Senior Director, Global Distribution, Sales, and Katie Mullins to Coordinator, Global Distribution.

Entertainment One Licensing appointed Nina Leong as SVP, Lifestyle, focusing on eOne brands SO SO Happy and Skelanimals. Leong has served as a consultant for eOne’s Lifestyle division since October 2014. She previously managed the Paul Frank brand for Saban.


Cynopsis Digital Programming Guide

Have you seen our tune-in guide, categorized by platform & network yet?

The list includes digital premieres, ongoing shows, live-streamed events and linear TV digital integrated series.

 Click here to view the guide: http://www.cynopsis.com/watcheroo.


Answer to last week’s Trivia: Who was selected by the Walt Disney Co. to be the ambassador for "The Happiest Homecoming On Earth: Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary Celebration" in 2005? Julie Andrews. Congrats to: David Stern, BARD Entertainment, NY; Pat Brady, CESD, LA; David Garber, Hava Garber, Chatsworth, CA.

Today’s Trivia Question: What eccentric rock drummer is said to be the inspiration for Animal on The Muppet Show? Email cathy@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone.) 

Cheers — Cathy Applefeld Olson
Cathy@cynopsis.com for
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