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Genius Brands acquires Ameba TV, readies SVOD

The acquisition serves a strategic need as the company ramps up for the April launch of Kidaverse—an ad-free subscription version of OTT platform Kartoon Channel!
January 13, 2022

Genius Brands International is about to get into the SVOD space with the introduction of a new commercial-free, subscription streaming service called Kartoon Channel! Kidaverse.

To gear up for an April 15 launch, GBI has acquired Canadian streaming service Ameba TV and gained access to its kid-safe platform technology and 13,000 episodes of content including Casper The Friendly Ghost, Donkey Kong Country, Gummy Bears and Rescue Heroes.

Financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed, but the deal will see Ameba founder Tony Havelka spearhead and oversee the technical buildout of the SVOD with Ameba’s core tech staff of four. The team will combine its experience building Ameba TV with its expertise developing and deploying AR and VR technology from prior business ventures and research. 

Kartoon Channel! president Jon Ollwerther is overseeing the development of Kidaverse and its North American rollout, with new Kartoon Channel! Worldwide MD Paul Robinson handling the rest of the global launch.

A market need for an ad-free subscription-based version of its ad-supported OTT offering was a key driver for the product launch and acquisition, said Ollwerther in a statement.

Set to launch on both Apple and Google Play for US$3.99 per month, Kidaverse will offer more than 20,000 animated kids titles. In addition to Ameba’s programming, the Kidaverse library will be stocked with Kartoon Channel! shows such as Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten, Rainbow Rangers, Peppa Pig and Surviving Roblox, as well as several thousand hours of animated content curated from GBI’s recent acquisitions of WOW! Unlimited Media and Your Family Entertainment (now Genius Family Entertainment).

More waves of content and products will roll out in phases beginning in Q3 2022, including custom avatars and emojis for kids, branded Kidaverse VR goggles, exclusive games, NFTs of popular kids characters called KFTs, digital “Kidaverse MetaBuck$” currency, podcasts, music and child-safe messaging tools for families called “Messies.”

GBI has been on a major buying spree of late, acquiring Canadian prodco Wow! Unlimited Media for approximately US$53 million last October, followed by European distributor/broadcaster Your Family Entertainment (YFE) for US$6.8 million in December. To manage the growth, the company brought in former Disney exec Zrinka Dekic as CFO and head of strategy, mergers and acquisitions at the end of 2021.

More team changes happened earlier this week when Harold Chizick and Jennifer Chizick, the founders of GBI-owned marketing agency ChizComm, departed both companies, citing organizational changes and misalignment over growth strategies.

About The Author
Jeremy is the Features Editor of Kidscreen specializing in the content production, broadcasting and distribution aspects of the global children's entertainment industry. Contact Jeremy at jdickson@brunico.com.

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