Hoping to one day realize a Christian kidnet equivalent in size to Nickelodeon or Disney Channel, Chicago-based Jellyfish Labs is readying interactive VOD mini-network Jelly-Telly for launch this fall.
President Phil Vischer, the man behind the hugely successful faith-based property VeggieTales, feels that many American families are struggling with raising kids with Christian values in a world where they’re inundated with secular programming – it’s tough for one hour of church a week to compete. When www.JellyTelly.com launches, it will host a new 20-minute VOD segment each day, comprised of educational puppet-hosted interstitials featuring content drawn evenly from original in-house programming and acquisitions. The days of the week will be themed, and on movie-of-the-week day on Sunday, the network will run a 30- to 50-minute Christian-friendly film. Instead of commercials, the site is running Schoolhouse Rock-like songs in between programming that are designed to teach kids about morals, values and the Bible. Vischer also believes the puppet hosts will create a Sesame Street on-air vibe.
At press time, the season one schedule was nearly locked down, and Jellyfish Labs was in conversations with independent producers for season two, hoping to commission some shorts. ‘It’s a way of introducing new characters, testing new ideas and getting immediate feedback from kids without having to spend US$5 million on one show to find out that nobody likes it,’ says Vischer.
He’s currently working on securing additional distribution for the subscription-based site in English-speaking territories. Kids and parents will be offered a free one-month trial, and then a monthly fee of between US$5 and US$6 kicks in. Though kids in grades one to four are the primary target demo, JellyTelly’s marketing efforts are focusing on parents, and Jellyfish Labs is currently working with churches, nonprofit ministries and charities, some of which have name and email lists containing millions of contacts, to help spread the word and pique the interest of other potential marketing partners.
The site should go live later this month, and while programming is its first focus, it will also house casual games, with new titles being launched monthly.