LA’s Genius Brands International is expanding its recently launched OTT platform Kartoon Channel! with a new education-focused section to engage kids as they return to school. Jon Ollwerther (pictured), EVP of business development, is taking on an expanded role as GM of both Kartoon Channel! and Kartoon Classroom!, overseeing operations for the entire platform.
The company will develop original content for Kartoon Classroom!, including its first series KC! Pop Quiz. Kartoon Channel!’s chief content officer, David Neuman, is supervising development on the interactive quiz show, which is similar to productions like HQ Trivia, according to Genius Brands. The company will also add some of its existing educational titles to the new banner, including Warren Buffet’s Secret Millionaires Club and Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab, as well as third-party content like Baby Einstein from Kids2 and Lolipapi’s musical series Giligilis.
Genius Brands has tapped former Disney ABC Cable Networks executive director Lou Fazio as a senior advisor who will work with Ollwerther on the launch. Before joining Genius Brands, Fazio built up experience in a number of programming and acquisition roles. Most recently, he was a content and programming exec at his own consultancy, where he offered insights into acquisitions, launching platforms and distribution strategy.
Kartoon Channel!, which targets kids ages two to 11, launched this past June with more than 4,000 episodes of shows like Dino the Dinosaur, Super Geek Heroes and Shark Academy. Genius Brands has been investing in its own OTT channels since 2016 to improve discoverability and maximize ad revenue, Caroline Tyre, Genius Brands’ SVP of international distribution, previously told Kidscreen. Kartoon Channel! is free and available through a number of platforms, including iOS devices, Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Roku.
Online gaming platform Roblox is also rolling out new content to support at-home learning today with the launch of a free digital civility curriculum that promotes safe and positive discussions among students as distance education ramps up. Roblox’s new materials are accompanied by a scavenger hunt-style game where kids try to spot unreliable information, and lessons on how to stay safe online. The curriculum features around 20 hours of content that was developed by the Roblox Education team with online safety vet Laura Higgins. It builds on Roblox’s previous efforts to support at-home learning, including the launch in March of educational tools for teachers and families through its Teaching Remotely Initiative.