BBC has commissioned a second season order of UK prodco Acamar Films’ animated preschool series Bing, with plans to air the new 26 x seven-minute episodes on CBeebies and BBC iPlayer starting October 31. But in a first for Acamar, and to spearhead local and international growth for the series, the prodco is making the series available on its new freemium education/streaming app Bing: Watch, Play, Learn, ahead of its CBeebies launch.
Though some broadcasters may be concerned that pre-availability of a show on an app may take overall views away from a linear launch, Acamar sees the episode’s launch on the app as additive, says executive director of content Jodie Morris.
“Even though our show is on YouTube and linear, the reach continues growing for both,” says Morris. “We haven’t seen a ceiling for audience appetite and we certainly haven’t seen any evidence that says placing content in multiple platforms is negative. We know kids are watching content on their tablets and phones, and we know we need our content to be multi-platform and to be where our audience is if we want to grow. That means linear broadcast, but also having our own app, and the BBC was very understanding of how we wanted to do this.”
The prodco released Bing on both Google Play and the iOS App Store in the UK earlier this month. Under an agreement with the BBC, Acamar will release three x seven-minute episodes of the preschool series and three educational games for free. Users that subscribe annually for US$9.24 (GBP$7.49) gain access to 12 x seven-minute episodes and nine educational games.
Acamar plans to raise the annual subscription cost to US$16.50 (GBP$14.99) and roll the app out globally throughout 2020. In the short-term, the prodco plans to move all 104 episodes of the series to the app, add more educational games and release new features like an option for parents to monitor kids screen time, after the CBeebies launch.
Looking to the long-term, Acamar wants the app to grow into a digital headquarters for the Bing brand, where the prodco can forge a direct relationship with its audience. Although the app just launched, there has been talks of adding ebooks and also giving parents the ability to shop for Bing merchandise as well, which could grow the companies e-commerce business.
Produced by Acamar Films, in association with Dublin, Ireland-based prodco Brown Bag Films, Bing is an Emmy-award winning series that originally launched in 2014. The preschool series has been a big success for the BBC and has been the top-rated preschool series on iPlayer, according to the BBC.
Adapted from British author Ted Dewan’s series of books of the same name, the CG-animated series celebrates the characters’ joyful and messy realities of preschool life by exploring issues they may face while growing up, such as learning to use the toilet and seeing something scary. The new episodes will include holiday-themed specials (a birthday, Halloween and Christmas) for the first time.
The brand is also a success on YouTube with its official channel racking up 115,000 subscribers, with two its most popular videos surpassing four million views. The series is available on airlines British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates and airs in 117 markets, including ABC (Australia) Nick Jr (Australia), Rai Yoyo (Italy), DeA Junior (Italy) Carousel and O! in Russia, Disney Junior (South East Asia), KiKa (Germany), NPO Zappelin (Netherlands) VRT (Belgium), TVO (Canada) Czech TV, M2 (Hungary) RSI (Switzerland) and AMC (CEE).
Last year, Acamar partnered with HarperCollins Children’s Books on a new book and digital content, appointed London-based toy manufacturer Golden Bear as master toy partner for the brand, with plans to release new consumer products in fall/winter 2019.
“We’re building a global brand with Bing, and continuing its growth starts with the app,” says Morris. “With it we can build and engage our online audience, and then work on expanding the brand’s success into new territories like the US, Russia and China by giving audiences a new way to connect with the series. We believe Bing’s timelessness makes it an enduring property and the app is the first step in growing Bing in the UK and turning it into an icon for preschoolers.”