After making moves to grow its originals slate and executive team, NBCUniversal preschool net Sprout is about to see its biggest evolution yet. On September 9, Sprout will rebrand to become Universal Kids, a US network for two- to 11-year-olds that will include preschool content, a lineup of DreamWorks Animation TV series, unscripted entertainment and live-action scripted originals.
The network, which will square off in a competitive kids TV landscape currently dominated by Viacom-owned Nickelodeon, Turner’s Cartoon Network and Disney Channel, will be helmed by GM Deirdre Brennan, who joined Sprout as GM in January from Canada’s Corus Kids.
Sprout will live on as a preschool destination on the Universal Kids channel and will continue to add original programming—such as incoming toon Kody Kapow (pictured)—to its slate. Sprout will air 15 hours of preschool programming daily from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Universal Kids programmed from 6 p.m. for older kids and families.
The Universal Kids lineup will be anchored by the debut of Top Chef Junior in October. Produced by Magical Elves (Bravo’s Top Chef), the series will feature a dozen young culinary artists competing for the coveted junior title.
As for DreamWorks Animation programming, the collaboration kicks off with the launches of All Hail King Julien and DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk.
Also part of the Universal Kids programming mix are international series like Nowhere Boys from NBCUniversal, Little Lunch from the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and The Next Step , a single-camera tween drama from Canada’s Boat Rocker Studios. In addition, Universal Kids will premiere DHX Media’s Hank Zipzer, based on the bestselling series of novels by actor Henry Winkler.
Universal Kids will also launch across online, on-demand and mobile platforms.
Growing from Sprout’s linear base of 60 million US homes, the new brand will undoubtedly benefit from promotion across Univeral’s portfolio of brands that includes DreamWorks Animation—which parentco Comcast purchased for US$3.8 billion last year—and feature film unit Illumination Entertainment.