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What does Amazon’s kids shift mean for producers?

The streamer will now focus on family co-viewing and young adult audiences for original content, with renewals for its current kids slate made on a case-by-case basis.
June 20, 2019

In an increasingly crowded SVOD space—Disney and Apple’s platforms will launch later this year and are expected to make big splashes in the kids space, as Netflix continues to invest heavily in children’s programming—Amazon Studios is stepping away from original content for preschoolers and kids.

While the streamer’s current slate of original kids content will continue to be available, its focus for original content moving forward will be on family co-viewing and young adult audiences. Renewals for original kids programming will be decided on a case-by-case basis, Kidscreen confirmed. When it comes to younger viewers, the strategic shift will see Amazon license content rather than commission it.

“When we looked at our customer feedback, we identified a need to expand and broaden our audience targets and have decided to focus on developing content for families inclusive of but not exclusively for kids,” Amazon Studios said in a statement. “We are also continuing to develop animated content that will target young adult audiences.”

The strategic shift will be overseen by Melissa Wolfe, serving as head of animation and family programming. Previously the head of kids programming, Wolfe took over from Tara Sorensen, who left Amazon in 2017 to head creative development for kids at Apple.

Michelle Sullivan, a kids development executive at Amazon, posted on LinkedIn about leaving the company as well as the streamer’s move away from original content created specifically for children.

“Tremendously proud of the Kids Originals shows Amazon Studios created and grateful to have been part of that team,” Sullivan wrote on the networking platform. “I’m sad to see it end, but excited about figuring out what’s next.”

Amazon’s decision to focus on families and older audiences comes hot on the heels of new kids content, with a number originals set to debut later this year. In January, the second season of DreamWorks Animation Television’s The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle premiered on the platform. The show is part of a development deal with DWA TV that also covered the creation of a new series based on the Kung Fu Panda franchise, Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of DestinyCostume Quest (pictured) is produced by Amazon Studios, LA-headquartered Frederator, Wellsville Productions and Double Fine Productions and bowed on March 8. JAM Media’s Jessy & Nessy is set to roll out later this year. Gaumont’s new musical preschool show Do, Re & Mi, meanwhile, got the greenlight from Amazon Studios in September and is currently in production.

Amazon bowed its first kid-focused originals in 2014, and its slate has grown to include series like Tumble Leaf, Just Add Magic, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Annedroids, Niko and the Sword of Light, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Dino Dana and Lost in Oz.

Yesterday, it was learned that NBCU-owned Universal Kids moved away from original content altogether as part of its new programming strategy. The US kidcaster will stay on the air and continue as a linear channel but will only be acquiring content and continuing its partnership with DreamWorks Animation (also owned by NBCUniversal).

About The Author
Elizabeth Foster is Kidscreen's Copy Chief & Special Reports Editor. Contact Elizabeth at efoster@brunico.com

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