New York-headquartered integrated entertainment company Bungalow Media + Entertainment is moving further into the kids space by partnering with Googles.com—a multi-platform digital brand from the ’90s focused on interactive children’s learning experiences.
The Googles.com business model was originally based on characters from the book Googles from Goo by Steven Silvers, which was published in 1996. Two years later, Silvers launched Googles.com as a kids-safe destination offering a mix of education- and entertainment-based content aimed mostly at preschoolers, including an animated series and a pilot for a TV show. Encouraging kindness, curiosity and self-esteem, the brand eventually extended into live events with traveling mascots, music production and books.
By 2007, the site was generating nearly one million unique visitors a month and had more than 200,000 names registered in its database. Additional websites were also launched under the Googles.com brand, including GooTube and GooMail. (The Googles.com domain name was registered before Google.com and is not connected to its more famous namesake in any way.)
After its initial growth, Silvers sold Googles.com and its characters to American real estate developer/philanthropist Stephen Garchik and his partner Marla Garchik in the late-2000s.
Now, Garchik and his investor partner Allan Cohen will see Bungalow help revitalize Googles.com as a 360-degree platform featuring original, in-house produced, short-form edutainment content, as well as acquired programming, for an older eight-to-12 kids demographic.
Launching toward the end of 2017 with the tagline, “Go Think, Go Play, Go Explore,” the new and improved Googles.com is set to offer a mix of live-action/reality-based content and animation, along with activities, quizzes and polls á la BuzzFeed.
According to Bungalow CEO Bob Friedman, who previously held senior roles at RadicalMedia, AOL, Classic Media, New Line Cinema and MTV before co-founding private equity-backed Bungalow in 2013, Googles.com will also serve as a content and talent incubator across multiple platforms.
“Our Googles.com originals are compelling five-minute episodes with storylines that can easily be expanded and developed for linear networks as well as short-form exploitation on a variety of online platforms,” Friedman says. “It can live in all the places where kids consume content—online, apps, OTT and of course TV—though we know kids are increasingly moving away from traditional TV viewing.”
The first four original, in-house series headed to the site will be Mud Dad, That’s A Job, I Can’t Even and How It Works. Additional titles to follow will include Need 2 Know Now, Two Minute Trip and Googles Asks.
As for monetization, Friedman says the primary revenue stream will be advertising and the integration and development of custom, branded content.
The Googles.com production and marketing partnership follows the success of Bungalow’s unscripted, charity-based NBC series Give, which recently nabbed the 2017 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children’s or Family Program.
Bungalow also recently inked a multi-platform development deal with Pop Warner Little Scholars—a non-profit organization that provides youth football and cheer and dance programs for participants in several US states and countries around the world.
“Pop Warner creates positive change through youth sports. We’ve teamed up with them because the brand resonates extremely well with the content we produce,” says Friedman.
The deals move the company beyond its mostly adult-based content for scripted and unscripted TV, feature films and docs. “When we started looking at the kids space, we asked, ‘What can we do to take advantage of a brand and, at the same time, leverage the way kids ages six to 12, in particular, are using other media?,’” says Friedman.
As it presses forward, Bungalow is currently looking for creative and distribution partners. “We’re having discussions with OTT platforms, networks and we’ll certainly be speaking with other production companies who have approached us,” says Friedman. “There will also be a philanthropic element to Goolges.com, where we will be donating a certain percentage of our profits to charities in this space.”
Team members already attached to Bungalow’s upcoming kids efforts include former HIT Entertainment and Kidz Bop creative services VP Anthony Knight, Bungalow executive producer and head of production Mike Powers and ex-Classic Media and Kidz Bop exec David Cohen.