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DreamWorksTV talks moving from digital to linear

DreamWorksTV studio head Birk Rawlings dishes on why new Universal Kids series Life Hacks for Kids: On the Road represents a new course of action for the company.
March 16, 2018

After churning out 100-plus live-action and animated digital series over the past four years, DreamWorksTV is finally steering a new linear direction—literally. On March 3rd, a TV version of the Awesomeness-owned company’s hit YouTube series Life Hacks for Kids premiered on Universal Kids, setting the course for a new wave of broadcasting ventures for the company. 

As the digital producer’s first foray into linear content, Life Hacks for Kids: On the Road (10 x 22 minutes) follows two sisters as they make crafts and show viewers how to replicate them at home. As the series’ sole producer, DreamWorksTV is now actively shopping the show outside of the US for traditional TV formats, and plans to drop it on a premium streaming platform within the year, according to Birk Rawlings, head of DreamWorksTV.

“While there is certainly a strong trend towards digital and on-demand viewing, millions of kids are still looking for traditional shows,” Rawlings says. “So from our perspective, it makes complete sense to extend our reach beyond digital into that space.”

Even with its new linear direction, DreamWorksTV is not about to stop making digital series. The company is in the midst of testing out new shows and concepts at low production budgets before taking them to broadcasters.

“We do a lot of experimenting on digital. We essentially use digital as an alternative development mechanism, as opposed to traditional television development,” says Rawlings. “So once something has been as successful as Life Hacks and we have a dedicated fan base, it makes it a lot easier to create a linear show. In the traditional development path, you’re just making decisions based on creative alone.”

Of course, there are economic considerations, too. Without going into specifics, Rawlings says the move to a traditional TV format means that DreamWorksTV now spends thousands of dollars per episode, as opposed to a few hundred. On the Road is putting that extra production money to good use by taking its characters out of the studio to locations like Long Beach and downtown L.A, for example.

“The economics of traditional cable and broadcast television allow for bigger production values than a platform like YouTube can support,” says Rawlings, adding that even with a smaller production budget, the YouTube version of Life Hacks still garners one million views for each of its 150 episodes.

In terms of licensing, a Life Hacks for Kids book published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was released last year, and Rawlings has more CP plans in the works, but nothing is ready to be announced quite yet.

In the meantime, DreamWorksTV is also focused on its recently launched Amazon OTT channel for Prime members that includes a raft of original digital shows including Shneck & Eck Crack the Case, Action Figures in Action, Secret Agent Challenge, Neighborhood Super Watch and the upcoming Kip Van Creepy.

 

About The Author
Alexandra Whyte is Kidscreen's Senior Online Writer/Social Media Coordinator. Contact her at awhyte@brunico.com

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