Genius Brands International to Bow ‘Kartoon Channel’ Across Digital Platforms, Connected TVs

Following the recent increases in viewership on Kid Genius Cartoon Channel and Baby Genius TV digital platforms, Genius Brands International May 6 announced that is merging the two channels under one new network brand, Kartoon Channel, which will launch on June 15, 2020.

The rebranded channel aims to expand distribution, which currently reaches over 100 million U.S. television households and more than 200 million users via OTT and mobile devices.

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Kartoon Channel targets kids 2 to 11 years old, featuring access to 4,000 episodes of entertaining and educational content in a safe environment. The channel will feature programming from Genius Brands’ catalog and from third-party creators, including Warren Buffett’s “Secret Millionaires Club,” “Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab,” “Baby Genius,” “Martha Stewart & Friends,” “Stan Lee’s Mighty 7,” Gisele Bündchen’s “Gisele & The Green Team,” “Gummi Bears,” “Shark Academy,” “DaJammies,” “Amber the Ambulance,” “Dino the Dinosaur,” “Ethan the Dump Truck,” “IncrediTales” and “OneZeez and Super Geek Heroes,” among others.

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“We are extremely focused on providing positive purposeful content that parents can always know will provide safe viewing for their children,” Andy Heyward, CEO of Genius Brands International, said in a statement.

Genius Brands has also acquired more than 3,000 episodes of programming to feature on Kartoon Channel, including hit programs form key content suppliers around the world.

Kartoon Channel is now working with Dooya TV, a leader in ad monetization and content optimization technology, to rapidly grow ad sales among major cable providers such as Comcast, Cox, Dish and Sling TV.

The channel will be distributed across Genius Brands-owned and operated APPs, multiple TV providers and over-the-top platforms as both ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) and subscriber video-on-demand (SVOD) services.

Genius Brands’ current platforms include Dish, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, Comcast’s Xfinity on Demand, Roku, Apple TV and Apple iOS, Android, Cox, Tubi, and Xumo, with all transitioning into carrying Kartoon Channel. New platforms launching Kartoon Channel content include SelectTV, RedBox, Plex and Canela Media.

“With so many kids now having the learning-at-home experience, children’s programs that can teach about money, about science, about cooking and DIY, all offer something special that will be embraced by parents as well as kids,” Heyward said.

Kids’ Series ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten’ With Arnold Schwarzenegger Coming to Amazon Prime, Alibaba’s Youku

Genius Brands’ children’s animated series “Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,” featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, will premiere in spring 2021 on Amazon Prime.

Alibaba Group will also launch the series in China on its video streaming platform for kids Youku.

“With Amazon Prime in the U.S. and Alibaba in China, we are very excited to launch on these two premiere platforms in the two largest territories in the world,” said Genius Brands’ chairman and CEO Andy Heyward in a statement.

“Years ago, Stan Lee and I spoke of such a project, and I’m excited to finally bring great storytelling to kids around the world, which will also promote lessons of health, exercise, fitness and anti-bullying,” said Schwarzenegger in a statement.

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“Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten” is an action-adventure comedy series targeting kids 4-7 and is co-produced by Alibaba Group, Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment and Schwarzenegger’s Oak Productions. In addition to his likeness, Schwarzenegger lends his voice as the lead character in the series. Co-creator of Deadpool, Fabian Nicieza, who has sold more than 100 million comics worldwide, is scripting the series.

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In “Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,” five years ago, a tremendous superhero battle blanketed the small town of Greenvale in cosmic radiation. Shortly thereafter, a previously ordinary, diverse group of boys and girls are showing the most unusual superpowers. Their superpowers, however, rather than coming from Kryptonite, or a radioactive spider, come from items in their kindergarten classroom — white glue, wooden blocks, crayons, silly putty, etc. A kindergarten teacher Arnold Armstrong (Schwarzenegger) arrives in Greenvale to train these super-kids. He knows what it is like to control superpowers, because he used to be Captain Courage, the hero whose final battle resulted in the previously unknown powers of the kids. Their new instructor teaches the kids how to become the heroes of tomorrow.

“This is a series of action, comedy, and fun, based on the genius and imagination of the great creative icon, Stan Lee, and with the important lessons of health, exercise, nutrition, and anti-bullying,” according to the Genius press release. “Just as he appeared as a cameo in all of the Marvel movies, Stan himself will be an animated cameo in each episode, with a digitized recreation of his voice as well.”

“We are gathering steam with our latest tentpole series, ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,’ and are thrilled to have two of the top digital streaming partners worldwide, Amazon and Alibaba, on board as launch partners, reaching a potential global audience of hundreds of millions, as well as the talents of Arnold and the genius that was Stan,” added Heyward. “In an ever-changing children’s media landscape and current viewing patterns of children around the globe, our strategy is to offer this dynamic series where kids predominantly go to find their entertainment now. We know we have a hit on our hands and cannot wait to share it with kids everywhere.”

MovieSpree TVOD Service Bows Sales on Animated Kids’ Series Including ‘Gigantosaurus’

MovieSpree, Mill Creek Entertainment’s transactional VOD service, is offering sales on several animated kids’ series to keep the little ones occupied while they stay at home.

On March 25, MovieSpree launched the complete first season of the animated kids’ series “Gigantosaurus,” on sale for $22.49 — 25% off of the regular price. In the series, young dinosaurs Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu are growing up in the Cretaceous period where life is always an adventure — new volcanoes are popping up all the time, the long-necked brachiosauruses and enormous triceratops roam free, meteor showers light up the night sky, and the big, fierce Gigantosaurus reigns over it all.

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“Liberty’s Kids”

Also on sale are several complete animated series at $2.99, including “Liberty’s Kids” (including all 40 episodes of the edutainment series), “Street Sharks,” “C.O.P.S.,” “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century,” “Archie’s Weird Mysteries” and “Horseland.”

Amazon Prime Rolls Out User Profiles

SVOD service Amazon Prime is rolling out user profiles, a feature long present on competing services such as Netflix.

In selected countries, one subscriber account can have up to six user profiles (one default primary profile plus five additional profiles, either adult or kids).

One general and one account for kids appears by default. When adding profiles, users can designate them for kids.

Prime Video will serve up only age-appropriate TV shows and movies (maturity rating 12 and under) to the kids’ profiles. However, all downloads including those from an adult’s profile, will still be available and can be accessed through the kids’ profiles. Search results and search suggestions are also filtered.

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The feature is supported across a range of devices.

‘Xavier Riddle and The Secret Museum: Meet Xavier’ Due on DVD and Digital March 17 From PBS

Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum: Meet Xavier will be released on DVD and digital March 17 from PBS Distribution.

It’s the first DVD release for the new series which follows the adventures of Xavier, his sister Yadina, and their friend Brad as they solve problems that come their way with the help of a “secret museum.” The museum is a portal that sends the friends back in time to meet real-life heroes when they were kids, who help them solve their problems.

“Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum” debuted on PBS KIDS in November 2019. The series is based on the children’s book series Ordinary People Change the World by New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Christopher Eliopoulos and is designed to teach kids about influential historical figures and living heroes and some of the key experiences that shaped their lives, while emphasizing important social emotional concepts and positive character traits such as courage, resilience, and commitment to setting and accomplishing goals.

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In the three-episode Meet Xavier, Xavier, Yadina and Brad meet Marie Curie in the episode “I Am Marie Curie.” She shows Brad that he should always follow his dreams. In the episode “I Am George Washington Carver,” Xavier learns how important plant life is and why we need to take care of the earth. And in “I Am Charles Dickens,” the writer shows Yadina that she doesn’t need new toys because her imagination can be just as fun.

 

‘Mister Rogers and Making Mistakes’ Collection Due on DVD and Digital Dec. 3 From PBS

PBS Distribution will release Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Mister Rogers and Making Mistakes on DVD and digital Dec. 3.

The 30-episode collection includes segments where Mister Rogers helps children understand that everyone make mistakes from time to time. Never afraid to tackle tough subjects, he speaks openly about the topics children silently wonder and worry about, but adults often struggled to discuss. World famous pianist Andre Watts performs for Mister Rogers in the collection, and together they talk about practicing and learning from mistakes.

A biopic on Fred Rogers, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks, is currently in theaters.

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Netflix Inks New Deal With Nickelodeon

Netflix and Nickelodeon have formed a multiyear output deal to produce original animated feature films and television series for kids and families based both on the Nickelodeon library of characters as well as new IP.

The deal is an expansion of the existing relationship between the companies, which has already brought several titles to Netflix, including animated specials Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling and Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus. Also forthcoming are specials based on “The Loud House” and “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

“Nickelodeon has generated scores of characters that kids love, and we look forward to telling wholly original stories that re-imagine and expand on the worlds they inhabit,” Netflix VP of original animation Melissa Cobb said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to continue collaborating with Brian Robbins, Ramsey Naito, and the creative team at Nickelodeon in new ways as we look to find fresh voices and bring bold stories to our global audience on Netflix.”

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“Nickelodeon’s next step forward is to keep expanding beyond linear platforms, and our broader content partnership with Netflix is a key path toward that goal,” Nickelodeon president Brian Robbins said in a statement. “The Nickelodeon Animation Studio is home to the world-class artists and storytellers behind some of the most iconic characters and shows ever made, and our head of animation, Ramsey Naito, has been building on that legacy over the past year by ramping up development and production exponentially. The ideas and work at our Studio are flowing, and we can’t wait to work with Melissa and the Netflix team on a premium slate of original animated content for kids and families around the world.”

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.

Netflix Orders Animated Preschool Series ‘Ghee Happy’

Netflix has greenlighted a new animated preschool series, “Ghee Happy,” from Academy Award- and Annie Award-nominated director-animator-illustrator Sanjay Patel.

It’s a playful reimagining of the Hindu deities as little kids discovering their powers in a deity daycare called Ghee Happy.

Patel is best known for his work on numerous Pixar films, such as Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, Cars, Toy Story 2 and The Incredibles 1 & 2. He directed the short animated film Sanjay’s Super Team, inspired by his own childhood, which was nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 88th Academy Awards and for Best Animated Short Subject at the 43rd Annie Awards.

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“For the past 25 years I’ve been working in kids and family entertainment without having kids of my own. Having finally become a parent, I’m so excited and lucky to be able to create a preschool series that introduces the great pantheon of Hindu Deities, not just into a beautiful and colorful series that is truly entertaining and original to my kiddos, but to families around the world,” said Patel in a statement.

“Sanjay’s art is vibrant, magical, and — above all else — incredibly happy! He has introduced his culture to his own kids through this show and now – thanks to the power of Netflix — kids and families everywhere will get to share in these inspiring and accessible stories,” said Dominique Bazay, director of kids & family at Netflix, in a statement.

‘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.