‘PBS Kids: 15 Pet-tastic Tails’ and ‘Berenstain Bears’ DVDs Available in May From PBS

The DVD titles PBS Kids: 15 Pet-tastic Tails, with multiple episodes from popular PBS shows, and a third volume of “The Berenstain Bears” are available in May from PBS Distribution.

The 15-episode PBS Kids: 15 Pet-tastic Tails features episodes from “Arthur,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Molly of Denali” and “Nature Cat,” among others. Kids learn about responsibility, compassion and caring for others with stories on everything from dogs and cats to hamsters and turtles. In “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” Daniel and his classmates release their classroom pet named Ducky after he’s grown too big in “Duckling Goes Home,” and in “Wild Kratts,” Chris and Martin unpack from an adventure, only to discover a wolf pup in their bag in the “Little Howler!” episode. “Winter Champions,” a special bonus episode from “Molly of Denali,” is also included.

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In The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Vol. 3 children join Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Sister and Brother for more adventures. When Sister must write about a bear she admires the most for a school project in “The Giddy Grandma,” she quickly learns just how many awards and trophies Grizzly Gran won in her younger years. Then, in “Car Trip,” the cubs are excited about going on a family trip — until they find out the destination isn’t Grizzlyland, but instead a tour of Bear Country’s national parks.

Finally, the cubs are sad when they hear that their friends down the street are moving away in “Moving Day.” Brother and Sister learn about the positive side of moving — new adventures and new friends.

HBO Max Inks Deal With Children’s Author Mo Willems

HBO Max has inked an exclusive, multiyear deal with children’s author Mo Willems, an Emmy-Award winning writer, New York Times bestselling author and illustrator.

Willems is HBO Max’s very first artist in residence, according to the SVOD service, launching at $14.99 a month in May.

As part of the two-year deal, HBO Max has acquired streaming rights to Willems’ first live-action special Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime! from Greg Silverman’s media company StampedeVentures, which will produce all additional content under the deal. HBO Max has committed to additional live-action “Storytime” specials, as well as multiple animated specials based on Willems’ children’s books. The first animated special will be based on the New York Times bestseller Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed.

“Mo is a special talent with a profound ability to connect with children and families alike,” Kevin Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max and president of TNT, TBS and truTV, said in a statement. “We are so happy Mo and Stampede Ventures chose to partner with us at HBO Max.”

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“We are so lucky to be able to work with the multi-talented Mo Willems, whose work is authentic, inspiring and truly impactful,” Jennifer O’Connell, EVP of original non-fiction and kids programming at HBO Max, said in a statement.

“HBO Max is the perfect home for me to work on fun and experimental ways to bring my book characters and theater work to the screen because we share the goal of creating exciting shows and series that bring families together,” Willems said in a statement. “My focus is making stuff that amuses, entertains and sparks creative play after the screen is powered down. Having the creative teams of HBO Max and Stampede Ventures with me means that we’ll get to create meaningful work and have fun doing it. We’re so excited we even created a new logo for the occasion. Banana!”

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Previously announced and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime!, shot over the summer at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., is a live-action family comedy special featuring Willems and the “Story Time All-Stars,” a group of celebrities, comedians and actors, performing live readings and sketch comedy inspired by Willems’ work, as well as musical guests. Celebrity guests include Anthony Anderson (“black-ish”), Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community’) and Rachel Dratch (“Saturday Night Live”).

 

HBO Max Orders New ‘Adventure Time’ Kids Series

WarnerMedia’s upcoming SVOD service HBO Max is reviving the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning animated series “Adventure Time.”

The service, which launches in spring 2020, has greenlighted four new one-hour specials titled “Adventure Time: Distant Lands” that will premiere exclusively on HBO Max, with the first two set to debut on the streamer in 2020.

These four new specials will continue the “Adventure Time” stories that introduced unlikely heroes Finn and Jake, best buds who traversed the mystical Land of Ooo and encountered its colorful inhabitants.

“The enchanted world of ‘Adventure Time’ has mesmerized viewers and critics alike as Finn and Jake right wrongs and battle evil,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, in a statement. “The addition of these specials to the HBO Max kids and family programming lineup is sure to make kids everywhere say ‘Slam-bam-in-a-can!’”

The first two specials, “BMO” and “Obsidian,” are set to premiere on the streamer in 2020 followed by “Wizard City” and “Together Again.” “BMO” follows the lovable little robot as there’s a deadly space emergency in the farthest reaches of the galaxy. “Obsidian” features Marceline and Princess Bubblegum as they journey to the imposing, beautiful Glass Kingdom — and deep into their tumultuous past — to prevent an earthshaking catastrophe. “Wizard City” follows Peppermint Butler, starting over at the beginning, as just another inexperienced Wizard School student as mysterious events at the campus cast suspicion on him and his checkered past. “Together Again” brings Finn and Jake together to rediscover their brotherly bond and embark on the most important adventure of their lives.

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“’Adventure Time’ was a groundbreaking series and a creative playground for so many talented creative artists,” said Rob Sorcher, chief content officer, Cartoon Network Studios. “Producing ‘Adventure Time: Distant Lands’ for HBO Max will allow our studio to explore this beloved world in an all-new format.”

Created by Pendleton Ward and executive produced by Adam Muto, “Adventure Time” garnered numerous entertainment awards. “Adventure Time: Distant Lands” is produced by Cartoon Network Studios.

Ad-Supported VOD Service Tubi Launching Kids Platform, Service in U.K.

Tubi, the San Francisco-based ad-supported video-on-demand service, Oct. 14 announced it would launch ‘Tubi Kids’ Oct. 21 in the United States, in addition to service operations in the United Kingdom in 2020.

The AVOD made the announcements during a keynote address at MIPCOM in Cannes, France.

Tubi Kids will feature a library of content featuring more than 1,200 age-appropriate movies and television shows or 5,000+ hours of content in a dedicated section built just for families.

In November the platform will include movies How to Train Your Dragon, Norm of the North, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, alongside series featuring characters Sonic the Hedgehog, Strawberry Shortcake, Paddington Bear and The Wiggles, among others.

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“The launch of Tubi Kids reinforces our dedication to offer an age-appropriate viewing environment — super-serving kids and families with a robust amount of content,” CEO Farhad Massoudi said in a statement.

Tubi said it streamed more than 132 million hours of content in September — a 40% increase in four months.

New titles currently available include Megamind, starring Will Ferrell and Tina Fey, Scary Movie 1 and 2, starring Marlon Wayans and Anna Faris, the Academy Award-winner No Country for Old Men, directed by Joel & Ethan Cohen, and the 13th season of the reality TV series “The Bachelorette.”

Massoudi said the U.K. launch would be the first of several forthcoming international territories for the AVOD service.

“[We] look forward to announcing them soon,” he said.

 

FTC Fines Google $170 Million for Profiting on YouTube Children’s Videos

Google and its subsidiary YouTube will pay a record $170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General that YouTube illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent.

The settlement requires Google and YouTube to pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York for allegedly violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule.

The $136 million penalty is by far the largest amount the FTC has ever obtained in a COPPA case since Congress enacted the law in 1998.

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In a complaint filed against the companies, the FTC and New York Attorney General alleged that YouTube violated the COPPA Rule by collecting personal information — in the form of persistent identifiers that are used to track users across the Internet — from viewers of child-directed video channels, without first notifying parents and getting their consent.

YouTube, according to the FTC, earned millions of dollars by using the identifiers, commonly known as cookies, to deliver targeted ads to viewers of these channels, according to the complaint.

The COPPA Rule requires that child-directed websites and online services provide notice of their information practices and obtain parental consent prior to collecting personal information from children under 13, including the use of persistent identifiers to track a user’s Internet browsing habits for targeted advertising.

In addition, third parties, such as advertising networks, are also subject to COPPA where they have actual knowledge they are collecting personal information directly from users of child-directed websites and online services.

“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement. “Yet when it came to complying with COPPA, the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids. There’s no excuse for YouTube’s violations of the law.”

The YouTube platform allows Google account holders, including large commercial entities, to create “channels” to display their content.

According to the complaint, eligible channel owners can choose to monetize their channel by allowing YouTube to serve behaviorally targeted advertisements, which generates revenue for both the channel owners and YouTube.

In the complaint, the FTC and New York Attorney General alleged that while YouTube claimed to be a general-audience site, some of YouTube’s individual channels—such as those operated by toy companies—are child-directed and therefore must comply with COPPA.

The complaint notes that the defendants knew that the YouTube platform had numerous child-directed channels. YouTube marketed itself as a top destination for kids in presentations to the makers of popular children’s products and brands.

The FTC said Google and YouTube told Mattel, maker of Barbie and Monster High toys, that “YouTube is today’s leader in reaching children age 6-11 against top TV channels” and told Hasbro, which makes My Little Pony and Play-Doh, that YouTube is the “#1 website regularly visited by kids.”

Several channel owners told YouTube and Google that their channels’ content was directed to children, and in other instances YouTube’s own content rating system identified content as directed to children.

In addition, according to the complaint, YouTube manually reviewed children’s content from its YouTube platform to feature in its YouTube Kids app. Despite this knowledge of channels directed to children on the YouTube platform, YouTube served targeted advertisements on these channels.

According to the complaint, it even told one advertising company that it did not have users younger than 13 on its platform and therefore channels on its platform did not need to comply with COPPA.

In addition to the monetary penalty, the proposed settlement requires Google and YouTube to develop, implement, and maintain a system that permits channel owners to identify their child-directed content on the YouTube platform so that YouTube can ensure it is complying with COPPA.

In addition, the companies must notify channel owners that their child-directed content may be subject to the COPPA Rule’s obligations and provide annual training about complying with COPPA for employees who deal with YouTube channel owners.

The settlement also prohibits Google and YouTube from violating the COPPA Rule, and requires them to provide notice about their data collection practices and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting personal information from children.

 

‘Kids & Family’ Service Added to the Roku Channel

Roku has announced the addition of the “Kids & Family” service on the Roku Channel, making it easy for children and parents to find a selection of tailored content available for free and through premium subscriptions, according to the company.

In addition, Roku is rolling out parental control features for the Roku Channel.

“We recognize that it can be a challenge to find quality kids and family entertainment across multiple streaming channels, particularly free, ad-supported options,” said Rob Holmes, VP of programming and engagement, Roku, in a statement. “’Kids & Family’ not only provides a selection of great free, ad-supported content from partners like pocket.watch with ‘Ryan’s World’ and Lionsgate’s ‘Leapfrog,’ but also highlights kids’ entertainment from existing premium subscriptions partners. Parents looking to find great programming for their children will enjoy the ease of going to the Roku Channel as their one place for kids and family entertainment.”

“Kids & Family” delivers a blend of shows, movies, and live linear and short-form video typically found across multiple free and paid kids’ channels and brings them together to watch in a single place, according to a Roku release. In addition to free, ad-supported options, users who have already subscribed to premium subscriptions through the Roku Channel will be able to view subscription-based kids and family content from partners such as Hopster, Noggin and Zoomoo, as well as children’s entertainment from services such as HBO and Starz, directly within “Kids & Family.”

Roku’s in-house editorial team created the “Kids & Family” experience to feature series, movies and entertainment for kids, according to the release. It offers 7,000 free, ad-supported movies and TV episodes from more than 20 partners such as All Spark, A Hasbro Company, DHX Media, Happy Kids TV, Lionsgate, Mattel, Moonbug, and pocket.watch, among others. Programming includes  shows such as “Care Bears,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “Leapfrog,” “Little Baby Bum,” “My Little Pony,” “Rev & Roll,” “Super Mario Brothers” and “Thomas & Friends”; live/linear streams featuring 24/7 kids programming available from Moonbug, pocket.watch and partners powered by Xumo, including Ameba, BatteryPop and KidGenius; five exclusive episodes of 22-minute series “Ryan’s World” by pocket.watch available directly on the Roku Channel for the first time; and premium subscriptions from Blue Ant Media’s ZooMoo, CONtv, Dove Channel, HBO, Hopster, Noggin, Starz or Up Faith and Family through the Roku Channel, featuring such series as “Bubble Guppies,” “Dora the Explorer,” “PAW Patrol,” “Peppa Pig” and movies including Adventures of Elmo in Groucholand and Muppets Take Manhattan.

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“There is a tremendous opportunity to expand our reach with the quickly growing audience on the Roku Channel,” said Chris M. Williams, founder and CEO, pocket.watch, in a statement. “Family time is often enjoyed in the living room where Roku is so successful and we’re thrilled to bring our biggest creator partners, like Ryan from ‘Ryan’s World,’ into the heart of the home through the new pocket.watch channel.”

Kids & Family” will have approximately 40% of the advertising time of traditional linear television, according to Roku. Lego Systems has signed on as the first advertising sponsor of the service.

“Roku offers a custom experience that will help us connect with our kid and family audiences, who are consuming content on an evolving array of platforms,” said Michael McNally, senior director at the Lego Group, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be the exclusive sponsorship partner in ‘Kids & Family’ on The Roku Channel.”

PIN-based playback controls to the Roku Channel help parents set access limits to content based on ratings within the Roku Channel. If the setting is enabled, a PIN will be required in order to view videos on the Roku Channel based on the content rating.

“Kids & Family” is now available to users of the Roku Channel in the United States and will be available on Roku devices, via the Web and on select Samsung smart TVs that access the Roku Channel.

Netflix to Launch Diverse Slate of Original Preschool Content

Netflix July 22 announced seven original preschool series for children ages 2 to 6 years old.

The slate is designed for diverse audiences, and inclusive of a wide range of genres and formats – from educational to nonverbal comedies, and with many options in between.

The content joins Netflix’s original preschool offering, which includes shows such as Ask The StoryBots, Chip and Potato, Mighty Little Bheem, Motown Magic, Super Monsters, True and the Rainbow Kingdom, Word Party, and YooHoo to the Rescue.

Other previously announced preschool originals soon launching, include “DreamWorks Archibald’s Next Big Thing,” “Go! Go! Cory Carson,” and “Chico Bon Bon.”

“With high-quality, age-appropriate programming for kids at every age and stage, we want to help young people find and connect with the stories and characters they love on Netflix,” Melissa Cobb, VP of original animation, said in a statement. “We are also here to empower parents to find the shows that are just right for their families during whatever time they feel is appropriate to enjoy entertainment.”

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Netflix was one of the first SVOD services offering children’s specific content without advertising and giving adults the ability to prevent access to certain content on their account by setting age restrictions and requiring security controls.

The seven new titles include:

“DreamWorks Dragons Rescue Riders” (2019) is a CG animated comedy adventure series that opens a brand new chapter in DreamWorks Animation’s Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe-winning How to Train Your Dragon franchise. The all-new series is about twins, Dak and Leyla, who because they were raised by dragons, share a unique ability to communicate with them. The brother and sister lead a team of five young dragons that spend their days rescuing other dragons, and helping the people in their adopted town of Huttsgalor.

Executive Producers: Emmy Award winner Jack Thomas (Dragons: Race to the Edge, The Fairly OddParents) as executive producer and Brian K. Roberts (VeggieTales in the House) as co-executive producer.
Director: TJ Sullivan (Barnyard, Beware the Batman).

“Hello Ninja” (2019) For Wesley and his best friend Georgie, every day is an adventure. When Wesley puts his hands together, bows to his reflection and says the words, “Hello, Ninja” his surroundings instantly transform into an enchanting Ninja world. From Atomic Cartoons, a Thunderbird Company, this CG animated series is based on the picture book of the same name from author N.D. Wilson.

Executive Producer: N.D. Wilson
EP/showrunner: Mark Palmer (Treehouse Detectives, Kim Possible)
Story Editor: Susan Kim (Wonder Pets, Handy Manny)
Director: Michael Dowding (Slugterra, Reboot)

“StarBeam” (2020) Zoey is excited to tackle second grade, but when danger beckons, she sneaks away and – with her signature call out “It’s time to shine!” – transforms into StarBeam, the speediest, most powerful and most enthusiastic superhero to ever sip from a juice box. StarBeam is a CG animated series produced by Kickstart Entertainment.

Executive Producers: Jason Netter (Preacher), Loris Kramer Lunsford. (Johnny Test), and Heather Puttock (Ready Jet Go!)
Head Writer: Noelle Wright (Doc McStuffins, Super Monsters)

“DreamWorks Go, Dog. Go!” (2020) is a CG animated series produced by DreamWorks Animation and DHX Media, based on the beloved, classic children’s book by P. D. Eastman, published by Random House Children’s Books. Every dog wants to go! Go fast, go far, go to a big dog party in a tree. The series follows young pup Tag Barker and her adventures in Pawston, a colorful community of dogs on the go.

Showrunner / Executive Producer: Adam Peltzman (Odd Squad, Wallykazam)

“What-To-Doodles” (2020) A team of adventurous and lovable young creatures play, grow, laugh, learn, and sing together in this CG animated series that teaches young viewers “what to do” in everyday social experiences and firsts. Created by Art Spigel and Hannah Kole, the series is produced by creative production company 7ate9 Entertainment.

Story Editor: Doug Wood (Molly of Denali, Bob the Builder)

“Izzy Bee’s Koala World” (2020) 11-year old Izzy Bee, known affectionately as the Koala Whisperer, lives on Australia’s Magnetic Island where she rescues and rehabilitates koalas with her veterinarian Mom, Ali and her dad, Tim. This non-fiction series is produced in partnership with The Dodo and Nomadica Films.

Executive Producers: Jared McGillard (Dodo Heroes, Last Alaskans), Izzie Lerer (Founder/Chief Creative Officer The Dodo, Dodo Heroes), Suzanne Kolb (Dodo Heroes, The Swim), Elizabeth Keyishian (Sesame Street, Paw Patrol, Astroblast)

Producers: David Glauber (Snug’s House, Toca Boca: Toca TV), John Collin (Dodo Heroes)

“Emily’s Wonder Lab” (2020) Discover what makes STEAM fun with these visual demonstrations that will blow your mind! Acclaimed science communicator Emily Calandrelli takes kids through lively experiments and entertaining activities in this new live-action series created and produced by Bunim Murray Productions (The Real World, Crystal Maze, Keeping up with the Kardashians).

Executive Producer & Host: Emily Calandrelli (Xploration Outer Space, Bill Nye Saves the World)

Executive Producers: Gil Goldschein, Maria Peppin, Trish Gold