Saddle up: Kids ongoing love of ponies, and a desire to tell more realistic stories convinced Nickelodeon to board the soon-to-premiere It’s Pony.
Launching on Nick globally on January 18, the 2D-animated comedy show tracks the adventures of Annie and her talking pony. Nick released the first episode of the 20 x 22 minute show on YouTube on December 26, and it has racked up more than 600,000 views.
Talking horse aside, series creator Ant Blades wanted to make a show that rejected the over-the-top fantasy of shows like Adventure Time in favor of something that could speak more directly to kids, he said. And this resonated with Nick, according to Nina Hahn, Nickelodeon’s SVP of international production and development. Kids watch Nickelodeon to think, laugh and feel, and It’s Pony meets those demands by focusing on issues important to the network’s core audience.
“We want our stories to start from a place that’s authentic and real, and we got that with the characters’ relationships,” says Hahn. “We want to reflect kids’ worlds visually, while also talking about friendship risk, parents, family, growing up and all the things that are core to our audience.”
Designed and animated by London studio Blue Zoo, the series was originally submitted as a short in Nickelodeon’s 2015 International Animated Shorts Program and then picked up in 2018 as a full show called Pony. It’s Pony marks the first time Nickelodeon has picked up an animated production made outside of the US for international broadcast, says Hahn. The comedy series’ grounded setting gave it international potential, she adds.
“This show’s focus on friendship speaks to our global audience,” says Hahn. “When we were preparing this show for international viewers we only had to make small changes, like the color of a school bus, to be sure the setting would be relevant for kids everywhere.”
The show’s reach is also helped by the fact that one of the leads is a pony, and ponies are having a moment with a stable full of content. This includes Little Airplane Productions and redknot’s 52 x 11-minute series The Dog & Pony Show; Netflix’s upcoming feature film Thelma the Unicorn (about a pony who becomes a unicorn); and of course, Hasbro’s long-running My Little Pony franchise, which is launching the new My Little Pony: Pony Life series in 2020 on Discovery Family and Discovery Family GO.
“From the outset, It’s Pony had a long-term vision for a story that was real, and focused on a single relationship,” says Hahn. “A show might be funny, but every piece of content we look at has to have a story, character and creator attached to it that can make it into 20 episodes if we’re to pick it up, and this project had that.”