05/01/18: Universal Kids GM Deirdre Brennan details the NBCU network’s Upfront strategy

Good morning. It’s Tuesday May 1, 2018, and this is your your first early morning Kids briefing!


Universal Kids is heading into the Upfronts with a strong focus on scripted originals for ages 2-12, kid-centric extensions of existing brands and kids lifestyle shows. “These areas are really resonating with agencies and ad sales partners,” Deirdre Brennan, network GM, tells CynKids.  

Lifestyle shows, such as upcoming makeover series Get Out of My Room, NBCU Cable Entertainment short form property Craftsy and recently renewed Top Chef Junior, are particularly ripe for brand integration, she notes, citing season 1 of Top Chef Junior, “where “client integrations felt like an organic part of the show. Clients are looking for those opportunities, and where they are appropriate that’s certainly something we’d like to pursue. This type of content for not only kids but family audiences… the support we’ve had from the [brand] side of the business has been extraordinary. They are with us in partnership, when we shared what we are doing and they get very excited about the potential in this space.” 
Scripted originals from around the globe, including the net’s first comedy GreenfieldsMighty Mustangs debuting in June; The Next Stepand Nowhere Boys, are a staple. “Kids want to see real people reflected on screen, and it is our objective to try to reflect their lives today,” she notes.  
Brand extensions range from DreamWorks Animation Television preschool properties including the Dragons Puss ‘N Boots and King Julien franchises, coming to the network in 2019, and a new series based on the Where’s Waldo brand. “We’ll be exploring other franchises shortly,” she says, noting the net has “a number of different program ideas an extensions in development.”  
Brennan says particularly with young viewers, the platform-dependent days are over. “It’s not about necessarily just building something for a linear channel,” she says. “We don’t expect them to start watching at 3pm and stay with us for 12 hours. We need to provide access to those programs in as many ways as possible.” She notes Universal Kids is working with parent Comcast “on the ability to extend and making sure we can find kids where they are.”

Disney and Twitter inked a new content and advertising deal, through which Disney will create live Twitter content from across its portfolio including Disney Channel, Walt Disney Studios, Marvel and ABC.
YouTube plans to roll out enhanced options for parents to further customize the YouTube Kids app. Beginning this week, YT Kids will begin offering “Collections” of trusted channels, including Sesame Workshop and PBS Kids, on a variety of subjects aimed at easing parents’ selecting only the channel collections and topics they want their kids to access. Also new this week is improved search-off control that enables parents to limit the YT Kids experience to channels that have been verified by the YouTube Kids team and not include recommendations from the broader YouTube Kids corpus. Coming later this year is a feature that will allow parents to hand-pick every video and channel available to their child in the app. YouTube recently has come under fire from several advocacy groups for collecting data about its juvenile viewers.
Preschool app Hopster completed a new, multimillion-dollar growth capital round led by its existing strategic equity investor, Sony Pictures Television Networks. Aside from SPTN, which kicked in an additional equity investment, the round was supported by existing investors VentureFounders and the Angel CoFund. Hopster was founded in 2013 by Nick Walters and has been installed more than 2 million times across connected TV, mobile and tablets. Sony Picture Television Networks initially took a minority stake in Hopster in October 2016.
HBO’s Sesame Street took home seven statuettes at Friday’s Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, among them outstanding preschool children’s series; outstanding writing in a children’s, preschool or family viewing series; and outstanding original song for A Song About Songs, composed by Bill Sherman. Among other notable kids wins: Free Rein (Netflix) for outstanding children’s or family viewing series; Tumble Leaf (Amazon) for outstanding preschool children’s animated series; SpongeBob SquarePants (Nickelodeon) for outstanding children’s animated series; Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild (syndicated) for outstanding travel/adventure program; Xploration Earth 2050 (syndicated) for outstanding special class series and Fruit Ninja Frenzy Force (YouTube RED) for outstanding interactive media-enhancement to a daytime program or series.
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Production is under way on Star Wars Resistance, the animated series about a young pilot recruited by the Resistance and tasked with a top-secret mission to spy on the growing threat of the First Order. It will premiere this fall on Disney Channel in the US and later on Disney XD and around the world. Yes, the BB-8 will be in the storyline, as will appearances by fan favorites including Poe Dameron and Captain Phasma. Series was created by Lucasfilm animation veteran Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels) and exec-produced by Star Wars veterans Athena Portillo and Justin Ridge, and Brandon Auman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
Sinking Ship Entertainment is at work on new sci-fi series Endlings, created by Emmy winner J.J. Johnson for the 9-12 audience. When the last elephant on Earth mysteriously vanishes, four foster kids discover that they’re not alone in the universe even though sometimes it can feel like they are. Series, which blends live action and CG, will premiere in the US on Hulu, and in Canada on CBC/Radio-Canada. Additional presale production partners include Universal Kids, CBBC in the UK, with delivery scheduled for early 2020.
Some production notes from Disney Channel’s upcoming live-action Kim Possible original movie: Sadie Stanley and Sean Giambrone will star as Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable in the treatment, slated to go into production this summer and debut in 2019. Movie scribes are the creators of the original animated series – Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley (Big Hero 6 The Series, The Penguins of Madagascar), and Josh Cagan (The DUFF, Bandslam). McCorkle, Schooley and Zanne Devine are exec producers.
The ‘90s called: Nickelodeon is rebooting Double Dare, the net’s original game show where fans compete in trivia rounds, engage in messy, physical stunts and face obstacle courses including the human hamster wheel, the classic gigantic mouth, the wringer and the iconic Double Dare nose. Beginning this summer,j 40 new episodes will unleash, featuring appearances from current Nick stars and blasts from the past. Double Dare premiered on October 6, 1986, on Nick, and ran from 1986-93, making it the network’s longest running game show.
Disney’s animated Big Hero 6 The Series will launch with a premiere weekend featuring two back-to-back episodes on both Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10 at 9a, on Disney Channel, DisneyNOW and Disney Channel VOD platforms. Following the premiere weekend, eps will debut every Saturday through September. Series is based on the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Academy Oscar-winning feature film and continues the adventures of 14-year-old tech genius Hiro, his compassionate, cutting-edge robot Baymax and their friends. Beginning Thursday, May 31, shorts featuring Baymax will debut across Disney Channel, DisneyNOW and Disney Channel YouTube. Voice cast includes Maya Rudolph, Ryan Potter and Scott Adsit. Guest voice cast includes Christy Carlson Romano, and celeb chefs Gordon Ramsay and Alton Brown.
Disney Junior’s Mission Force One, the latest chapter in its series Miles from Tomorrowland, debuted an episode to astronauts on board the International Space Station. The ep, which features an exact replica of the space station using NASA’s original designs, also was shown at a screening at the nonprofit Space Center Houston, the official visitor center for NASA Johnson Space Center. It makes its earthly television debut Monday, May 7 at 5:30p.
Disney series Phineas and Ferb will be available in its entirety on DisneyNOW, beginning Wednesday, May 2. The first season will be available for all users, while the subsequent three seasons will be available for verified users. Disney XD also will air the entire Phineas and Ferb library of 126 episodes, seven one-hour specials and the original movie Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, throughout the month of May. Eps will air weekdays, beginning Tuesday, May 1 at 5p, leading into a Memorial Day weekend marathon.
New social network Maverick, created by former Disney Interactive execs Brooke Chaffin and Catherine Connors, launched as a platform to encourage adolescent and teen girls to take creative risks and express themselves. The concept is to build a social media experience around positive interactions, where users get rewarded with badges for doing something daring or unique. Chaffin and Connors recruited peer influencers including musicians Chloe & Halle Bailey, and YouTube personalities Brooklyn & Bailey McKnight, and Jennifer Romolini, chief content officer of Shondaland. Maverick is available via the free Apple iPhone app or on the web. Investors include Matt Robinson of Heroic Ventures, former ABC Entertainment president Susan Lyne and Nisha Dua, partners of BBG Ventures, and Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn.
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The Shanghai Disney Resort opened Pixar Toy Story Land over the weekend.
Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana, WeKids, and Toon Boom Animation opened their joint China Tales Incubator portal for submissions as a means to discover new talent and develop, produce and distribute original kids’ animation from China to global audiences. The winning concept will be put into development through the partnering companies. The partners will host six China Tales Incubator Workshops in Hangzhou, Suzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen from April 26-May 11.
Sony Pictures Animation’s feature film Peter Rabbit reached more than $300 million at the global box office this past weekend, with domestic receipts totaling $114.6 million and international ticket sales at $204.2 million, for a worldwide total of $318.8 million.
British broadcaster Sky’s entertainment format Revolution is spinning off a pair of children’s series. Produced by Znak & Co., new series Revolution: Skills and Revolution: Cuts, based on BMX and skateboarding action, are searching for kids aged 5-12 with a passion for action sports.
Family Channel in Canada will launch a new season of DHX Television’s Johnny Test on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6p starting May 1.

Answer to Last Week’s Trivia Question: What was the name of Marine Boy’s (1968-69) girlfriend? Neptina. Kudos to: David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank CA; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station, TX


Today’s Trivia Question: Who is the Harry Schneider Library on the PCA campus in Zoey 101 (2005-2008) named after? (Email trivia@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: A limit of four correct answers from each time zone will be selected.).


Today’s Anagram: Cod Tag (Email trivia@cynopsis.com; first respondents with the correct answer who aren’t in trivia will be posted in tomorrow’s newsletter.)
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