04/26/17: Descendants 2 gets 5-net debut; Nickelodeon follows the Rainbow; Jon Moonves on Pocket.watch’s first steps

Good morning. It’s Wednesday April 26, 2017, and this is your your first early morning Kids briefing!

Disney Channel original movie Descendants 2 will get a simultaneous premiere across five networks within the Disney|ABC Television Group. On Friday, July 21 at 8p, Disney Channel, ABC, Disney XD, Freeform and Lifetime will all premiere the sequel to 2015’s Descendants, about the teenage sons and daughters of Disney’s most infamous villains. The debut will extend to each network’s branded digital and several on-demand platforms via live feeds on apps; plus on-demand on the Disney Channel, ABC, Freeform and Lifetime apps, beginning Friday, July 21, at 10p; and on Disney Channel, ABC, Freeform and Lifetime VOD beginning Saturday, July 22.
Nickelodeon acquired US and Caribbean Basin broadcast rights to season 1 of Rainbow Rangers from Genius Brands International. The 11-ep CGI-animated preschool series is in development. It debuted at MIPJunior last October and is expected to air on Nickelodeon’s preschool channel, Nick Jr. The series is an empowering peek at the real lives of superheroes Earth’s First Responders. The Nick deal follows Genius Brands’ recent announcement of the appointment of Mattel Inc.’s Fisher-Price Toys as Global Master Toy Partner for the brand.

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Pocket.watch today will announce its first partner – HobbyKidsTV, a family of 10 YouTube channels collectively pacing at 200 million monthly views. It’s the first of 12-15 partnerships with YouTube creators the just-launched digital-first media company focused on K2-11 plans to sign. The partnership gives Pocket.watch exclusive access to HobbyKidsTV’s library of 3,000-plus videos for packaging and distribution on Pocket.watch-branded offerings outside of YouTube.
“Their YouTube channels will still exist as their channels,” Jon Moonves, Pocket.watch chief strategy officer, tells Cynopsis. “HobbyKidsTV are brilliant at what they do and they are successful at what they do. We’re not going to mess with that. We are going to help support that and help them achieve great things off of their YouTube channel.”
Distribution on other platforms, original premium content, apps, toys, books, and even linear television are all in the mix as potential avenues for extending creators’ base outside of YT, depending on the needs of each brand, Moonves says. Sweetening the pot for creators, he says Pocket.watch provides its partners with equity partnership in Pocket.watch. “They will be part owners in the company, they will have a seat at the table.”
Pocket.watch is also ramping up its own YouTube presence. “We’re currently building up our inventory and have a goal of 1,000 videos by year end,” Moonves says. The company also is developing a premium content suite, and is in talks with a publisher to create a series of books and a book imprint, he says.
Oscar-nominated DreamWorks Animation film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron will get a new chapter via Spirit Riding Free, a Netflix original series from DreamWorks Animation Television, debuting exclusively May 5. The new incarnation follows the journey of a gutsy 12-year-old girl named Lucky who befriends a wild mustang whom she aptly names Spirit.
Hunter Street got a 20-episode second season renewal at Nickelodeon. The live-action adventure series that debuted this March, stars Stony Blyden, Daan Creyghton, Thomas Jansen, Mae Mae Renfrow and Kyra Smith as foster children in Amsterdam who attempt to track down their foster parents, who mysteriously disappeared. Season 2 of will feature new quests, more mysteries and a new Hunter sibling. Production will begin later this summer in Amsterdam. Series is produced by Blooming Media.
Life-Size 2, the sequel to the Tyra Banks- and Lindsay Lohan-starring 2000 TV movie, will come to life on Freeform as a 2018 holiday film. The original movie premiered on ABC as part of the Wonderful World Of Disney franchise; a second airing followed on Disney Channel. In 2012 Disney Channel announced it was developing a sequel with Banks onboard coming on board to reprise her role as a doll that comes to live and to exec-produce. The project segued to Freeform because the young audience of the original movie is now in their 20s and 30s and sequel targets an older millennial audience. It will debut as part of Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas programming initiative. Also due from Freeform around the holidays and with potentially younger appeal is Decorating Disney, which will provide an inside look at how holiday magic is created at Disney Parks around the world.
Disney revealed that the “untitled animation” project it’s been touting for November 27, 2019 is in fact the sequel to Frozen. In addition, the studio announced Star Wars: Episode IX will premiere on May 24, in 2019, the live-action The Lion King will bow July 19, 2019. In addition, Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, the Wreck-It Ralph Sequel, is moving back from March 9, 2018 to November 21, 2018. Toy Story 4 looks to be on schedule for June 21, 2019.
Warner Bros. and Abu Dhabi developer Miral are planning six immersive worlds – to include Batman’s Gotham City, Superman’s Metropolis, the Flintstones’ Bedrock and Dynamite Gulch, themed after iconic animated brands Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera – for their $1 billion Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi theme park in the UAE. The park is set to launch in 2018.
Miami Children’s Museum will launch the first museum exhibit based on Disney Junior series The Lion Guard. The exhibit, which spotlights learning areas such as social and self-development, problem solving, creative thinking and arts & culture, will debut at Miami Children’s Museum in January 2018 for six months and then travel to other children’s museums across the country through 2022.
London-based Cake announced a deal with DHX Television for medieval comedy series My Knight and Me. Family Channel currently airs new eps of the series, which follows the adventures of a colorful trio of knights as they battle witches, dragons and giants, Wednesday at 4.30p.
Animated preschool series Nella the Princess Knight is set to premiere on Monday, May 15 at 5:30p on Nick Jr. in the UK. Series follows the adventures of 8-year-old Nella, who is far from your average Princess. She can also transform into a Princess Knight to save her kingdom.
The YouTube Kids app is now available on LG, Samsung and Sony smart TVs in the 26 countries where the app is currently launched. YT Kids currently counts more than 30 billion views and more than 8 million weekly active viewers.
Sesame Workshop teamed up with an all-new Google Earth to spotlight 12 bright, strong, girl Muppets from Sesame Street on the revamped platform. The Muppets hail from countries including the US, India, South Africa, Mexico, Germany, Nigeria, and Bangladesh, where local versions of Sesame Street are produced. Fans can locate each girl’s country on Google Earth and find a curated selection of videos that enhance global learning adventure at any time with these smart, curious girls. Check it out at http://bit.ly/SesameEarth.
The 2017 Radio Disney Music Awards, which will air this Sunday, April 30 from 7-9p on Disney Channel, will open with the world premiere of the song “Ways to Be Wicked” in first-look footage from the network’s upcoming original television movie Descendants 2 introduced by talent Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Sofia Carson and Booboo Stewart. The show also will feature Auli’i Cravalho, Alessia Cara and Jordan Fisher performing a medley of fan-favorite songs from Disney theatrical film Moana.
Radical Sheep Productions, a division of Boat Rocker Studios, hired Shaleen Sangha in the newly created position of senior director, development & production. Sangha has been with DHX Media since 2007, most recently as director of development, with credits including Looped, Supernoobs, Doozers, Inspector Gadget, Chuck’s Choice and Make it Pop.

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