Heads up, animation producers! Spin Master Entertainment and webtoon distributor Mondo Media are now accepting animated kids series pitches for their YouTube channel Spindo TV. Targeting children ages six to 11, the online platform is expected to bow in Q1 next year.
“At launch, our audience will see animated series based on toys already on shelves, or toys that we are launching in 2015, as well as series that Spin Master is considering for toys,” says Jennifer Dodge, VP and executive producer for Spin Master Entertainment.
But potential producers shouldn’t worry about lacking product tie-in potential. “We’re open to shows that have toy potential, and to series that don’t,” says Aaron Simpson, VP of animation and business development for Mondo Media. “A property may have toy DNA when it somehow empowers the audience to be greater than they already are, or helps them display a skill they possess. Or when the show allows kids to relive their fantasies, or perhaps live in a fantasy they themselves create.”
Although kids generally don’t become heavy YouTube viewers until their tween years, the team behind Spindo TV believes there is an untapped and growing audience in the middle-school demo. For its part, YouTube has been busy this year preparing to launch its own kids service, and several kids IP owners already have their own channels on the platform. One of them, DHX Media, recently reported earning US$3.3 million from YouTube in its fiscal year ending 2014.
“YouTube doesn’t track data for those under 13, but we have strong anecdotal evidence that illustrates a very big appetite for high-quality, original programming aimed at the eight- to 12-year-old crowd,” Simpson says. “That said, recent data points out that YouTube recently took over the top spot for the 14- to 17-year-old group, overtaking Facebook for the first time. It’s not a stretch to assume that the junior high crowd is also surging onto the platform, especially when you consider recent data suggesting that 10 is the age when kids first begin plugging into the world of social media, with YouTube leading the pack.”
Spindo TV will launch as a standard ad-supported channel, but Simpson says they’re keeping an eye on subscription model distribution on YouTube and other platforms. The marketing strategy for the channel’s launch is also a work in progress, but the partners are exploring various cross-promotional avenues, both on and off YouTube.
Given that Mondo Media is best known for edgy millennial cartoons such as Happy Tree Friends, which have amassed over 2.5 billion views on YouTube, some might see the company’s move into kids programming as a big leap. But Simpson doesn’t share that view.
“The science of online audience-building isn’t much different from what we’ve been doing at Mondo for over a decade in the 18- to 24-year-old demographic,” Simpson says. Besides, “I’ve produced over a dozen kids pilots, including Johnny Test, and I was a series producer for Kids’ WB! a few years back, so we are well-versed in this arena. And we’ll be working side-by-side with the team at Spin Master, which has popped out enormous hit series like Paw Patrol, the most-viewed preschool property on Nickelodeon.”