05/03/17: NBCU execs on the Universal Kids evolution; a peak into Nick’s new Entertainment Lab; Spirit showrunner saddles up


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Good morning. It’s Wednesday May 3, 2017, and this is your your first early morning Kids briefing!

“We felt like it was time to grow up, expand our audience and embrace the family for longer.” This according to Deirdre Brennan, newly minted GM of Universal Kids, the next generation of Sprout whose name change and expanded slate will bow September 9.
The move is a big step forward in the progression since NBCU bought Sprout in 2013, and it will see even deeper integration of the network into both the Frances Berwick-led Lifestyle Networks group and the broader NBCUniversal family, including its film division and theme parks. The net’s content offerings shift from solely preschool to K2-11 also expands implications in the advertising realm.
Universal Kids will
continue to program 15 hours of preschool content per day, including the addition of DreamWorks Animation Television series
King Julien
, but beginning at 6p content will age up to woo older kids and their parents. “The nine and half year old girl or boy is who I have in my mind when I’m thinking about what we have to offer beginning at 6pm,” Brennan tells CynKids. “We want to be able to keep going and offer them more and something different in the kids space.”
Fare for the older demo will be a mix of scripted originals – including at launch Nowhere Boys from NBCU, comedy series Little Lunch from the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, and dance drama The Next Step – and an embrace of unscripted series, beginning with Top Chef Junior, a new version of the popular show on sister net Bravo. Brennan says she’s looking to retool other formats from NBCU and elsewhere; priority categories include food, dance, music and pets. “Unscripted for kids is really a [blank] space. I would also love to explore kids’ desire to know more about the world around them, and bring some experiential shows families can enjoy together.”
The expanded roster is opening new doors for advertisers hungry to present their messaging in a co-viewing environment, Carrie Stimmel, SVP, lifestyle advertising sales at NBCU, tells CynKids. Noting research has shown “when mom or dad is watching with the child, the brand awareness goes up,” Stimmel says auto and CPG are among categories that “make a lot of sense” for Top Chef Junior. “It’s really any brands that want to talk to families.”
Stimmel also notes an elevation in advertisers’ desire for a positive environment to showcase their brand. Sprout’s long-running Kindness Counts campaign has been a draw, she says, and the expanded slate provides even more opportunities. “They are ready to market in a really kind, feel-good way,” she says.
For the sixth consecutive year, the Cynopsis 
Kids !magination Awards
will honor the best in children’s, tween and family programming across platforms, technology, marketing and prosocial campaigns. The entry deadline is just a month away, so
enter now.
Finalists and winners will be celebrated by their colleagues on September 19 in NYC.   
is launching the Entertainment Lab, which will spearhead research and development efforts around new technologies. Based in the network’s new Burbank facility, the new venture is headed by Chris Young, SVP, Entertainment Lab, who previously served as executive creative director, Nickelodeon Animation.
“We’ve been doing a lot of this in a stealth mode, and this is a time to start talking about it so that our partners and people who are working in these kinds of areas to know we are too,” Young tells CynKids. The Lab will encompass both animation and live action, and is “about taking a long-range view of entertainment and technology, and where they are coming together. We aren’t trying to develop new shows in the entertainment lab or produce stuff that’s going to be on air tomorrow. We’re looking two to three years out.”
Among the technologies Young’s team is delving into are real-time rendering, virtual cinema, VR, augmented and mixed reality and artificial intelligence. Young says the Lab already is working with Chris Savino, creator of The Loud House, and Adobe “to develop a pipeline for doing real-time topical stuff” around the Nick series.
Audience Targeting | Reporting | Monetization
August 3, 2017 – Dream Downtown – NYC
More details to follow
For event and registration questions, contact Marketing Coordinator, Cathy Person
For Sponsorship Opportunities, contact VP of Sales, Mike Farina
DreamWorks Animation Television
on May 5 will debut the first six eps of Spirit Riding Free, a Netflix series based on film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron that features a new Spirit, the son of Spirit and Rain from the 2002 movie. Showrunner Aury Wallington shares some insights into the next generation of storytelling for the next generation of audience.


It’s a girl
The main character is a 12-year-old girl named Lucky Prescott. Her father is the son of a railroad baron and her mom was a trick rider with a Mexican traveling circus. Lucky’s mom died when she was a baby so she grew up in the big city in this upper crusty blueblood family. Her dad has to oversee the railroad expansion in California and he brings Lucky along and when Lucky arrives she gets a chance to connect with this world of freedom and horses and daring and adventure that her mom embodied and that she hasn’t had access to.
Keeping it real
The show has so many moments of grand adventure like the film, but we are also focusing the story around g the friendship Lucky finds with two other girls who live in the town. These girls are best friends, and I wanted to make sure the friendship, and the girls themselves are as real as they can be. They don’t have superpowers, they aren’t princesses, they aren’t superhuman in any way. They are real kids and they make mistakes and they get in trouble. But at the same time, they are essentially nice girls. I dislike it when the humor in a show comes from characters being mean or at other people’s expense, and I think we have a lot of that on TV.
Historic setting, modern vibe
The show is set in 1890 but we don’t ever name the specific year. We wanted to keep it relatable. It’s a very contemporary-feeling show in this historical setting. We didn’t want the periodness of it to make it inaccessible. The girls’ attitudes are very contemporary, and the fact that they are girls in no way limits their thinking and possibilities the way it actually would have happened in that time period.
and AwesomenessTV are getting their freak on once again. Teen horror series Freakish will return for a second season, with 10 half-hour episodes. Freakish was created by Beth Szymkowski, who will return as exec producer alongside Shelley Zimmerman, Chris Grismer, Kay Reindl and Erin Maher. Freakish is produced by AwesomenessTV. Season 1 is currently streaming on Hulu.
In other news from the company’s will be creating news channel Awesomeness News, available across all AwesomenessTV platforms, to dive into issues of importance to Gen Z including the environment and social justice. Awesomeness also will debut its next feature film, You Get Me, starring Bella Thorne and Halston Sage, on June 16 on Netflix. Aside from AwesomenessTV, the company also runs DreamWorksTV for the younger set, and Awestruck, aimed at millennial moms.
will air the first six original Star Wars movies tomorrow (May 4), the date known globally as Star Wars Day. The network will show the Lucasfilm movies back-to-back in series order, with limited commercial interruptions over more than 16 hours.
New episodes of Cartoon Network series Steven Universe return with a five-night event beginning Monday, May 8 at 7p with an ep titled “Lion 4: Alternate Ending.” Fans can also find all five episodes on the Cartoon Network app on Friday, May 5. Also on Cartoon, new eps of Ben 10 begin airing Monday, May 1 at 5p, with premieres on the CN app the Friday before each RV debut. New eps of Teen Titans Go! (beginning May 5), The Powerpuff Girls (beginning May 7) and Ninjago (beginning May 15) also are on tap.
Amazon Kids
original series Dino Dana will debut on Prime Video on Friday, May 26. The follow-up to the 2015 Emmy-winning series Dino Dan: Trek’s Adventures, Dino Dana combines live-action with CGI animation, features 11 new prehistoric creatures and, for the first time, two sisters. Series was created by J.J. Johnson (Dino Dan, Annedroids), and exec-produced by Sinking Ship partners Johnson, Blair Powers and Christin Simms with animation executive produced by Matthew J.R. Bishop.
Puppet comedians Mario and Fafa, stars of Bento Box Entertainment’s digital series Glove and Boots, are back for a seventh season, premiering this week on YouTube. Last year, views for the channel grew by 17 percent, according to the company; this year Mario and Fafa will continue creating long-form video blog posts and add new short videos of fan favorite segments, a monthly live-streamed show and a new YouTube channel – Glove and Boots Gaming.
Dressed as his character Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp last week made a surprise appearance at the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland. The marketing stunt was timed exactly one month before the US premiere of the fifth installment in the Pirates franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales.
London-based Media I.M. Inc, appointed Evolution to represent the North American licensing, merchandising and promotions rights for its Belarus-originated animated show Sunny Bunnies. Disney Junior and Disney Channel both licensed the series and are airing it in the States.
Giver, TVOKids’
live-action children’s series about kids helping build playgrounds in their local Ontario communities, is set for a fourth season on TVOKids. In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, Giver 150 takes playground construction to the capital city Ottawa, to build the biggest playground in the country.


Entries are open for The Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards
For the sixth consecutive year, Cynopsis is honoring the best in children’s, tween and family programming across platforms, technology, marketing and prosocial campaigns. Winners will be recognized at the 6th annual awards event on September 19, 2017 in New York City.
Enter NOW (while early rates apply)
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JOB OPENING: PUBLICITY/CNBC/Englewood Cliffs NJ: Dvlp & manage PR strategies for CNBC Primetime programming. 4+ years in entertainment media publicity. Excellent written and verbal communication skills. Full info/apply HERE (5/10)


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JOB OPENING: DIGITAL DATA SALES PLANNER/Acxiom/NYC &CHI: Knwlg agency business, the consumer journey & mktplace to identify meaningful insights. Mng clients & act as an agency liaison to other groups at Acxiom sales & prod teams, BA + 3 yrs of Dig sales or Agency Media plan’g exp req. Full info/apply HERE (5/9)  
JOB OPENING: SEASONED WRITER/PRODUCER/EDITOR/GSN TV/Santa Monica: 5-7 yrs exp. BA Degree. Collaborative Positive Creative Thinker w/strong leadership & interpersonal skills. Avid, Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Adobe Suite. Photoshop & Illustrator a +. Knowledge of FCPX. Please send res and CL HERE (5/9)  
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DIGITAL AD OPS MGR/theGrio: Mgm of campaigns, strategy & reporting on desktop and mobile. Exp w/technology and DFP, Ad Exch and programmatic ad nets. Implement 3rd party & Javascript tags. Lead testing for site redesign, migrations & launches. Sales support role w/plans, campaigns & traffic. Apply [email protected] (5/8)
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JOB OPENING: DIGITAL AD OPS TRAFFICKER (PROJECT)/A+E Networks/NY: execute day-to-day tasks of the Ad Ops team, including the testing, execution, optimization & troubleshooting of all A+E Networks non-linear advertising campaigns. Full Info/Apply HERE (5/6)


JOB OPENING: SALES EXEC/DANNY LIPFORD: Seeking dynamic/highly motivated Eastern Regional Ad Mgr for its expanding nationally synd TV & Radio shows & Digital platforms. Min 5yrs direct sales exp. Proven track rec of working successfully w/lrg nat’l accounts. Home improvement, TV or Radio exp a +. Resumes HERE (5/6)

SR DIR, MARKETING & PARTNER INSIGHTS/Viacom/NYC: Strong number two to the dept VP.  8+yrs in ad sales related media rsrch. Dynamic individual with strong client facing exp to develop strategy, supervise, motivate, and mentoring a team. Full info/apply HERE (5/6)

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