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How Little Baby Bum inspired a music-driven biz

Moonbug used the channel's reach and YouTube analytics to optimize creative. Now its other musical series are getting two million hits a day and Netflix deals.
April 22, 2019

The beat goes on for music-based content in the kids entertainment space, with simple tunes and accompanying visuals playing a major role in capturing kids’ attention. A great deal can be derived from the strategic approaches driving the transformation of catchy little ditties into the sweet refrains of a booming bottom line. In our four-part series, Kidscreen is looking at newcomers like Little Baby Bum and Baby Shark, as well as industry giants like Disney, which are all trying to figure out just exactly how they can get the dough out of the Do Re Mi.

While looking for new opportunities in the kids space, Moonbug Entertainment co-founder and CEO René Rechtman dove deep into the music industry. What he learned surprised him.

Rechtman previously served as president at Maker Studios, which was acquired by Disney in 2014. And reflecting on his time with the company, he noticed that a significant percentage—upwards of 60%—of views were coming from music. He also didn’t recognize the leading kids IPs. YouTube, he learned from his kids, was the primary platform fueling conversation in the schoolyard—and that’s when he realized there was a tremendous opportunity to marry music, content and entertainment.

“It was a new generation of animation and live-action content from mom-and-pop shops,” Rechtman says.

Take, for instance, Little Baby Bum, makers of the popular “Five Little Ducks” and “Getting Dressed Song” videos on YouTube. Originally founded in 2011, the channel isn’t the brainchild of established players in the kids space, but rather of husband and wife team Derek and Cannis Holder. Little Baby Bum’s popularity is driven by featured content such as a 54-minute compilation of musical nursery rhymes (a video boasting more than two billion views). A large part of the channel’s success is its deep catalogue of original songs that complement the use of public domain songs, such as “The Wheels on the Bus.”

In 2018, Moonbug, now with the help of former Wildbrain execs John Robson and Alfred Chubb, acquired the Little Baby Bum channel for an estimated US$9 million. The fledgling company is expected to make similar acquisitions this year, after it recently announced US$145 million in funding from global merchant bank The Raine Group.

With Little Baby Bum, Moonbug acquired a channel with more than 16 million subscribers and an estimated 23 billion views across YouTube, Amazon and Netflix.

With videos watched more than eight times on average, music is integral to the channel’s stickiness, says Moonbug head of video labs Jon Benoy. The musical stylings are key to the brand’s expansion efforts going forward, he adds, with Moonbug pouring resources into interpreting the deep analytics offered by YouTube. It now has a team of 20 focused on data and optimization.

“We are a data-led business,” says Benoy. “We are constantly looking for untapped themes and topics to create music and visual content around. The creatives then run with the data we provide.”

Take Go Buster!, a nine x 2.5-minute YouTube series inspired by the popular Buster the Bus character. Launched in December 2018, the series, which follows the adventures of a little yellow school bus as he plays in mud puddles and learns to drive on ice, has since racked up more than 60 million views, attracting about two million unique hits a day, and even landing a Netflix deal.

“The data really informed the general direction of where we could pivot,” says Benoy, explaining that the numbers indicated Buster was the most popular character on the site.

The analytics also show what secondary characters should be further developed.

“We looked beyond our internal data-set and analyzed all of the videos across YouTube in the kids and family genre,” says Benoy.

“We discovered that ‘diggers’ or ‘excavators’ were vastly over-represented in viewership, but under-represented in number of videos, which results in less competition for high-performing keywords.”

Analytics even inspired the color scheme. “Buster is yellow because we noticed that yellow buses had a noticeably higher level of engagement with viewers [than other bus videos],” he says. “We also verified this by analyzing all bus-related videos on the platform and learned that most people lean toward either yellow or red buses.”

Built around a tentpole character and original music, such as “The Carwash Song,” the series was designed to travel. Moonbug has since released a Go Buster! playlist and cut a deal with Netflix to place Go Buster! shorts on the global platform alongside a number of hour-long playlists like Little Baby Bum: Nursery Rhyme Friends.

“Our plan is to buy more strong and popular IPs that we believe we can franchise,” says Rechtman, adding that merchandising and licensing opportunities will follow the company’s initial IP proliferation. “First, we need to optimize all our content and then distribute it to every platform we can.”

Tune in tomorrow for part two of our series on musical moneymakers. 

About The Author
Gary Rusak is a freelance writer based in Toronto. He has covered the kids entertainment industry for the last decade with a special interest in licensing, retail and consumer products. You can reach him at garyrusak@gmail.com

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