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See whoâ€™s blazing trails in kids entertainment
DECEMBER 2020 • VOLUME 24 • ISSUE 6 VP & PUBLISHER Jocelyn Christie firstname.lastname@example.org
Pivot! Hot50 winners get creative a year when COVID-19 presented unprecedented challenges, the children’s entertainment industry still found ways to thrive. The majority of this year’s hottest companies—as voted by Kidscreen’s 16,500-plus print and digital subscribers—noted their ability to adapt to the pandemic on the fly as a top achievement. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Broadcasting category, where nearly every platform and channel rejigged their programming schedules to benefit kids and families stuck at home Not surprisingly, streaming services saw huge viewership spikes, and their efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the industry. SVOD giant Netflix grabbed the number-one title in Broadcasting for the seventh consecutive year, thanks in large part to an expanded preschool library, more original animated movies and a bigger slate of inclusive live-action series. And new streamers Disney+ and AppleTV+ finished second and sixth, respectively, in their first year of Hot50 eligibility. Netflix wasn’t the only company to reclaim its top spot. PBS KIDS ranked
number one in Digital Media for the second year in a row on the back of inclusive content that included racethemed digital series Talk About and new accessibility-based games and apps. Former three-time champion YouTube Kids was a close second. In Distribution, meanwhile, Ireland’s 9 Story Distribution International took the top spot for the third consecutive year, after significantly growing its AVOD and European businesses. In the Production category, Canada’s Sinking Ship Entertainment earned its first-ever Hot50 crown, lifted by popular live-action series Lockdown, Ghostwriter and Endlings. As for Licensing, The LEGO Group reclaimed the number-one spot this year after being dethroned by Spin Master in 2019 and 2018. The Danish brickmaker had a big year, strengthening partnerships with companies like Nintendo and Universal Pictures. Congratulations to all of the 2020 number-ones, and also to this year’s fresh batch of Hot50 newcomers, including ZAG, Dubit, Disney+, Australian Children’s Television Foundation, Ludo, AppleTV+ and Blue Zoo. Keep up the great work!
—Jeremy Dickson 2
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February/March 2021 • Street Date: January 26 kidscreen.com
Netflix reigns supreme The SVOD giant stays on top with a growing slate of diverse kids content. For a seventh consecutive year, Netflix has taken the top spot in broadcasting. As COVID-19 spread globally, locking families in their homes, the SVOD’s expanding kids content slate was a boon to viewers left with little else to do. Netflix broke records by adding more than 26 million paid subscribers in the first half of the year, attributing the massive global lift to pandemic lockdowns. Under the leadership of new preschool content director Heather Tilert and international director of original animation Dominique Bazay, Netflix broadened its programming for under-fives, with plenty of new CG-animated series, including Kuku Studios’ Go! Go! Cory Carson and Tonko House production Oni. Inclusive storytelling also continued to be a strong differentiator for the streamer, which premiered its new adaptation of The Baby-Sitters Club in July, and recently commissioned live-action series Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices.
In animated feature work, Netflix joined the production of Parisbased Gaumont’s High in the Clouds, announced a Chicken Run sequel with Aardman, and debuted films such as The Willoughbys and Over the Moon. “This year, we’ve had more for kids to explore than ever before, whether in animated series like Jurassic Park: Camp Cretaceous, preschool shows or even live-action fare like The Baby-Sitters Club,” says VP of original animation Melissa Cobb. “It’s a credit to our teams that have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to deliver comfort and joy to our members in a really challenging time.” In recognition of its kids content investment, Netflix snagged six 2020 Daytime Emmy wins with five titles in major program categories, including its first preschool animated series win for Ask the StoryBots; a win for best children’s animated series (The Dragon Prince); and a trophy for best young adult series with Trinkets. BROADCASTING
Disney+ sizzles In its first year on the Hot50 list, the new House of Mouse streamer shot all the way up to number two. Disney+ has been a lone bright spot for the media conglom this year, while its consumer products and parks and experiences divisions continue to be hit hard by the pandemic. Originally projected to reach 90 million subscribers
PBS KIDS helps at home To support learning efforts while kids were out of school during lockdown, the US pubcaster offered a variety of free at-home learning solutions on air, including a new singalong Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood special that addressed some of the challenges and disappointments faced by families during the pandemic. The kidsnet also premiered new animated series Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum from 9 Story’s Brown Bag Films and STEM-focused Hero Elementary from Portfolio Entertainment.
over four years, the streamer got more than 99% of the way there (86 million subscribers) in its first year of operation. The SVOD’s hit Star Wars series The Mandalorian and straight-to-streaming features such as Hamilton, Mulan and Pixar’s Onward were key drivers of the early growth.
In response to this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, the UK pubcaster’s kid-focused news unit Newsround launched a series of special bulletins, while presenters of CBBC’s long-running magazine series Blue Peter addressed the issue head on in special statements. BBC Children’s also produced 10 new hours per week of Bitesize daily TV lessons to help keep Britain’s children educated during COVID-related school shutdowns.
The Canadian pubcaster was quick to mobilize all of its platforms to keep kids educated and entertained during the pandemic with quick-turnaround content, including interstitial series Studio K from Home and podcast show The Story Store Shorties. CBC Kids also increased its tween slate by 300% with new series such as Endlings, Find Me In Paris and The Strange Chores.
Like Disney+, Apple’s new streaming service has landed on the Hot50 list in its inaugural year. Among its achievements, the platform made history this year as the first SVOD to win a Daytime Emmy in its first year of eligible kids programming. In total, the streamer picked up two awards from the Emmys—Best Children’s or Family Viewing Programming for Ghostwriter and Best Single Camera Editing for Peanuts in Space: Secrets of Apollo 10.
YLE The Finnish broadcaster jumps into the Hot50 this year on the strength of its linear television offering for kids and streaming service Areena. Prior to and during COVID, kids ages 10 and under generated more than four million weekly views on the platform—a significant feat considering there are only about 630,000 kids in that age demo across the entire country.
France Télévisions Similar to most kidscasters, France Télévisions had a busy year shifting its programming to address the pandemic. But it became the first broadcaster in Europe to launch school lessons on TV, airing six hours of educational content on France 4 daily, and reaching more than a million kids each day. During lockdown, 40% more content was also viewed on Okoo, the pubcaster’s online platform for kids ages three to 12 and their families.
TVOKids When COVID-19 hit, the Canadian broadcaster pivoted to produce a daily show from the channel hosts’ homes, along with hours of content related to the pandemic to maintain kids’ mental health and welfare. TVOKids also partnered with volunteer teachers to produce The Power Hour of Learning, giving audiences daily content to augment learning at home.
This year marked the revival of the kidsnet’s popular news format, Nick News, which broadcast an hour-long Kids, Race and Unity presentation focused on the voices and experiences of Black children across the US. In other inclusive storytelling projects, Mexican-American family-themed series—and Loud House spinoff—The Casagrandes premiered on the channel this year.
Sinking Ship’s rising tide Lockdown content, multiple award wins and a focused mission drove the Canadian prodco’s year.
For companies focused on live action, 2020 was a scary year. Productions ground to a halt, and those that were able to start back up had to do so under strict measures. Yet for Sinking Ship’s JJ Johnson, it was the lack of face time with teammates that made it particularly challenging. In spite of the pandemic, it’s been a busy year for the Torontobased prodco. While 2020 began with the premiere of eco-series Endlings on Hulu and CBC, among others, Sinking Ship is closing out the year with a number of new shows in the works, including one created with Dr. Jane Goodall that is set to bow on a global streamer. In between, Sinking Ship picked up an Emmy for Apple TV+’s Ghostwriter; pivoted to a transactional release for Dino Dana The Movie; and landed its first series for YouTube, developed and shot entirely in lockdown, and aptly titled Lockdown.
“I think I’m most proud and grateful that we were able to find a creative outlet and a means to keep our post teams employed with Lockdown,” says Johnson. “At a time when we were feeling so hopeless, it gave us something to focus our collective energies on.” This year also gave Johnson a deeper appreciation for the role kids content plays in the world. It was a particularly brutal year for children, who had their educations, social lives and family lives disrupted. “There’s no question that this has been an epically rough year,” he says. “But it has also reminded us what a great privilege and responsibility it is to create content for this incredible audience—content that isn’t about moving product, but about moving ideas and inspiring minds. This has been, and will continue to be, [our] core mission: To leave our audience better off than before they watched us.”
Fred Rogers adds originals Fred Rogers Productions jumps up the Hot 50 list, moving from third to second place this year. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniabased prodco began production on two shows on PBS KIDS in 2020, including Donkey Hodie and Alma’s Way, as well as releasing a season 5 Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood special dedicated to helping kids cope with COVID-19.
Fred Rogers also collaborated with the US Census Bureau this year to help expand the “Everybody Counts” campaign to ensure proper representation of all American citizens in the national census. Odd Squad, meanwhile, celebrated its 100th episode and landed yet another Daytime Emmy win.
COVID-19 had a huge impact on JAM. While the Dublin-based prodco was forced to cancel its annual Animation Dingle conference, it hosted the firstever virtual ceremony for its Student Awards, netting an impressive 200,000 impressions for the show. The crew also delivered Jessy and Nessy to Amazon Prime on time and on budget, despite a rapid shift to a work-from-home situation. Finally, JAM created the specially produced short The Voyage, inspired by Ireland’s top lockdown song, and helped RTE’s Comic Relief efforts raise more than US$5 million.
Guru Studio Toronto-based Guru didn’t let lockdown stop it in 2020. The prodco managed to deliver Pikwik Pack earlier than expected, which allowed Disney Junior to move the premiere up on the schedule for a fall launch. Guru also partnered with Sesame Workshop on a new series for HBO Max called Mecha Builders, and helped deliver new PAW Patrol episodes for Nick Jr.
9 Story Media Group/Brown Bag Films
After moving 1,100 employees spread across five countries to a work-from-home structure, 9 Story Media Group/Brown Bag Films launched six series in 2020, including Blue’s Clues & You!, Clifford and a special of The Magic School Bus. The company also picked up nine Daytime Emmy Award nominations, including nods in the Outstanding Preschool Children’s Series and Outstanding Directing in a Preschool Animated Program categories.
With lockdowns and unrest in mind, Sesame Workshop filmed an Elmo special featuring celeb guests and families playing and coping together at a distance, and rolled out three broadcasts on CNN helping to explain the current health and political climate directly to kids. This year also saw Elmo get his very own star-studded late-night talk show on HBO Max.
It’s hard to believe it took this long, but Kipo & the Age of Wonderbeast was rightly celebrated this year when it became the first kids toon to have a character declare, “I’m gay.” DWA also had a banner year with its Trolls franchise, breaking PVOD records when Trolls World Tour pivoted to a virtual release. And on Netflix, the studio also took its popular Fast & Furious and Jurassic World IPs into animation for the first time.
Blue Zoo Animation Studio The UK’s Blue Zoo Animation Studio picked up multiple trophies this year, including a British Animation Award for The Adventures of Paddington and a BAFTA for educational series Numberblocks (which netted its millionth subscriber in 2020). Blue Zoo’s It’s Pony also bowed on Nickelodeon to global acclaim.
Aardman Animations The Bristol-based studio is singing a fresh tune as it gears up to premiere its first musical, Robin Robin, on Netflix in December. Everyone’s favorite stop-motion sheep, meanwhile, got a second movie greenlit, as well as a new 20 x seven-minute series. And while live entertainment had to take a backseat this year as a result of COVID-19, Aardman completed Fabula, its first piece of original content for Efteling theme park in the Netherlands.
Ludo Studio Aussie animation house Ludo certainly isn’t feeling very blue at the end of this year. Flagship series Bluey not only won the 2020 International Emmy Kids Award for best preschool program, it also grew its reach globally—with the popular pup travelling to broadcasters in Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic—and expanded into CP for the first time.
Focused flexibility AVODs and European sales growth help 9 Story retain its crown For the third year in a row, Ireland’s 9 Story Distribution International has come out on top in distribution. “We are thrilled to be recognized again by our peers,” says Alix Wiseman, SVP of distribution and acquisitions. Among its accomplishments, Wiseman says the global distributor supported its clients’ needs in the wake of the pandemic by offering flexible contracting structures, payment terms and global philanthropic efforts. “COVID has been a difficult time when everyone has had to pivot, so kindness, compassion and understanding have been the keys for us on all fronts,” she says. “We have tried to be as accommodating as possible because we are deeply loyal to our partners, clients and channels.” In 2020, 9 Story also sold more than 2,200 half hours of kids and family content to international AVOD platforms, including to Viacom’s Pluto TV and Fox’s streaming service Tubi.
“AVOD has been a big focus for us,” says Wiseman. “Just a few years ago, if creators weren’t able to place content on traditional channels and platforms, the only other recourse was YouTube. But now the AVOD space has really broadened out.” She also attributes the distributor’s higher sales volume in Europe this year to the hiring of kids industry veteran Joss Duffield as VP of distribution in April. As for notable brands, Wiseman says global awareness for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood continues to grow. “An increasing number of partners want to come aboard across all rights and entry points,” she says. Another area of focus has been live-action content. Recent acquisitions include hybrid animal series Bad Nature and musical comedy Andy and the Band. “The demand for live action has obviously gone up because so many production pipelines have been on hold during COVID,” says Wiseman.
Jetpack flies high Independent UK distributor Jetpack moves up from fourth to second this year on the strength of a catalogue that has grown 40% year-over-year. New live-action acquisitions include Rumpus Media’s sports competition series for CBBC A Week to Beat the World, Sixth Sense Film’s doc series Our Family and Three Arrows’ CBeebies show The Baby Club. Jetpack also acquired the rights to classic animated preschool brands Clangers (Coolabi Group) and Chuggington (Herschend Enterprises), and is nurturing future hits with upcoming series The Misadventures of Master Moley (Nottage Productions) and sci-fi toon NEW-GEN (APNG Enterprises).
WildBrain holds steady Under new EVP of content partnerships Deirdre Brennan, Canada’s WildBrain (formerly DHX Media) secured deals with more than a dozen international platforms for season one of original CBBC and Family Channel commission Malory Towers, sending the
live-action series to BYUtv (US), CBC Gem (Canada), ABC (Australia) and ZDF (Germany), among others. The company also inked a deal with Netflix to produce two new seasons and an interactive special for beloved animated comedy Johnny Test.
In a global pandemic, getting safety messages out worldwide became a top priority at Sesame Workshop. The non-profit company delivered dialogue-free PSAs to a number of platforms (including HBO, PBS KIDS and YouTube) to help kids understand how to put health and safety first in lockdowns. It also rolled out an Elmo’s World News special with a social distancing theme in 13 languages across the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Aardman grew its third-party catalogue in 2020, picking up Brave Bunnies from Glowberry and Anima Kitchent. It also secured a number of presales for the preschool series, including a deal with UK programming block Milkshake! The studio helped land a development deal for Pop Paper City from LoveLove Film, and sent its own Shaun of the Sheep IP to Netflix.
Little Baby Bum continues its world tour, with offshoot Mia’s Magic Playground netting global distribution with Viaplay and Sky. Moonbug’s catalogue of YouTube IPs, meanwhile, was made available in more than 230 territories and pulled in an average of seven million views per month.
Entertainment One The Hasbro-owned entertainment arm sent a bunch of its IPs global in 2020. The recently launched Ricky Zoom landed on Nickelodeon, Milkshake!, Rai and more. Cupcake & Dino’s first season, meanwhile, was released globally on Netflix, and got a specific channel strategy in Southeast Asia (Disney), Australia (Cartoon Network) and Russia (2x2). Finally, eOne sent a fresh crop of Power Rangers Beast Morphers to a number of broadcasters, including Nickelodeon, Netflix and Tencent.
The LEGO Group Sinking Ship Entertainment
The LEGO Group’s LEGO City Adventures and LEGO Jurassic World bowed globally on Nickelodeon, while its Monkie Kid series (an adaptation of the popular Monkey King character) got a big Chinese release, rolling out across all major streamers in the region.
COVID-19 forced Sinking Ship to rethink its distribution strategy for Dino Dana The Movie, shifting from a theatrical to a transactional VOD release. But months after its premiere, it’s still drawing in new audiences (including a recent distribution deal with Disney+ and Nat Geo in LatAm). In 2020, the Toronto-based company sold more than 600 half hours of content globally, including a multi-property agreement with Showmax and a multi-territory deal for Just Add Magic.
ACTF Rounding out our top-10 list is the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, which sent the popular series Hardball to the BBC, France Télévisions, TVO, RTE, NRK and TVB. Its groundbreaking First Day series, featuring a young transgender girl experiencing the ups and downs of high school, also got picked up by the BBC and Hulu. ACTF sent its upcoming MaveriX series to Netflix, plus more than 140 hours of content to South African pubcaster SABC.
Partnerships pay off The LEGO Group returns to the top of the licensing sector
It has been a difficult 2020 for many in the toy industry, with lockdowns related to the pandemic causing complications for manufacturing and shipping. But along with the challenges came opportunities, and The LEGO Group saw significant success in licensing this year. “It’s a fantastic honor to be recognized by our peers and partners,” says Jill Wilfert, head of entertainment for The LEGO Group. “There are so many companies doing great things in licensing, so to be singled out is a testament to the LEGO team.” One standout achievement was a partnership between the brickmaker and an all-time fan-favorite video game property. The LEGO Super Mario Adventures with Mario Starter Course building kit was a hit, integrating LCD screens and speakers into play to provide kids with an interactive experience. “We’re very selective in who we partner with—it’s about authenticity and finding opportunities that fit with our brand values,
as well as with the LEGO experience,” Wilfert says. “We say no more than we say yes, and new partnerships need to expand the portfolio in some way.” With families spending more time at home than ever before, construction sets were the perfect escape this year. The LEGO Creator Expert Old Trafford Manchester United kit, for example, brought sports fans back to the stadium, while the LEGO Technic Fast & Furious Dom’s Dodge Charger kit let kids live out their speed-filled fantasies. “LEGO was one of those brands that has seen a lot of acceleration this year and we’ve had just a fantastic response to licensed products,” adds Wilfert. With success internally, the team looked outward and tried to be supportive of its partners, she says. “We really tried to lean in with our existing partners, knowing that this year has been a challenging time.”
Spin Master stays strong Quarantine didn’t cramp the Spin Master team’s collaborative style, as the company expanded existing partnerships and announced several new deals in 2020. The toy and media company grew its relationship with Feld Entertainment, signing on as the global master toy partner for Supercross. The partners previously hit the road together when they teamed up on Feld’s Monster Jam truck brand. This year also saw Spin Master get crafty to take advantage of the lockdown-driven DIY boom. The company inked a multi-category co-branding and licensing agreement with TikTok creators WeWearCute that included tween-focused stationery, crafts and activity products under Spin’s new inkFLUENCER banner.
WildBrain takes flight WildBrain made a real meal out of Peanuts this year. The brand celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 10 and 11 with a global consumer products effort, including a McDonald’s Happy Meal program and the launch of Snoopy in Space on Apple TV+. Back
on Earth, the Peanuts property experienced continued success with fashion collaborations with the likes of Marc Jacobs, H&M, Zara and Uniqlo. These partnerships proved timely as 2020 also saw WildBrain CPLG launch a lifestyle division.
Hasbro Hasbro acquired Entertainment One in Q1 2020, and the toymaker wasted no time taking advantage of eOne’s popular preschool brands. Master toy partner TOMY revved its engines with the launch of consumer products inspired by Ricky Zoom, while a fashion collaboration between Peppa Pig and Hunter saw an exclusive range of kids outerwear and accessories hit shelves.
Funko collected even more accolades in 2020. The toymaker launched new figures for its POP! collectibles range inspired by top brands like Star Wars and Marvel. Warner Bros., meanwhile, picked up the film rights to Funko’s figurines, with plans for an animated movie currently in the works.
There was a lot of traffic on Sesame Street this year, with licensing agreements encompassing live events, apparel and publishing. The Champion x Sesame Street Collection included clothing featuring Big Bird, Elmo and friends, while a Sunny Days picture book celebrated the show’s iconic theme song and featured a lineup of superstar illustrators.
Jazwares Consumers were stuck at home this year, so Jazwares met them online. The toymaker launched products inspired by YouTube brands such as Blippi and Cocomelon, and offered up ranges that brought gaming franchises like HALO to life. This year also saw Jazwares expand with the acquisition of toycos Wicked Cool Toys and Kellytoy.
Sinking Ship Entertainment Sinking Ship proved dinosaurs are anything but extinct with several licensing deals for its Dino Dana series. The company released the book Dino Dana: Dino Field Guide, and has partnered with publishing house Mango on additional book and games efforts. The studio also signed a deal with toyco Safari to launch exclusive dinosaur figures ahead of the holiday season.
Mattel Mattel’s licensing efforts this year were major. Big brands like Hot Wheels and Barbie launched new offerings in 2020, including diecast cars inspired by Travis Scott’s JACKBOYS album and special SKUs celebrating the doll’s 60th anniversary. Mattel also partnered with Disney on The Child plush, inspired by the beloved “Baby Yoda” character.
ZAG It’s been a miraculous few months for ZAG, which inked an agreement with Playmates Toys to launch consumer products inspired by its portfolio of brands, including Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir. The Miraculous franchise has, to date, sold more than 150 million SKUs through its 300-plus licensees.
Shifting gears PBS KIDS addresses the pandemic, accessibility and racial inequality in 2020. As COVID-19 and protests against racial inequality drove kids and parents online in search of information to explain and entertain, broadcasters had to rapidly respond with offerings that helped audiences make sense of their changing world. To support families, PBS KIDS rolled out free at-home learning resources during the pandemic lockdowns. The new content drove increased traffic to the tune of 30% growth in streaming, a 40% increase in game play, and 70% more downloads for the PBS KIDS Games and Video apps. The US pubcaster launched PBS KIDS Talk About digital shorts, which modelled parent-child conversations around topics such as feelings, race and racism, and families and relationships. It also expanded its accessible digital offerings with games and apps that adapt based on an individual’s learning progression and approaches to problem-solving, creating a system of tailored feedback. During the summer, PBS KIDS teamed up with Random House Children’s Books and Michelle Obama on a new YouTube series
called Mondays with Michelle Obama. Over the course of four weeks, kids were invited to tune in and listen to the former First Lady read popular children’s books. Rounding out the year, PBS KIDS partnered with New York pubcaster WNET and global nonprofit Education Development Center to launch a text-based pilot program that encourages low-income families and Spanish speakers—historically underserved communities in the US—to participate in hands-on science and math activities. “This has been such an unusual year, and it’s been amazing to see how many families have turned to our digital platforms and content to keep their kids engaged and learning during their extended time at home,” says Sara DeWitt, VP of PBS KIDS Digital. “I’m so proud of the PBS KIDS team for being poised and ready to meet these needs, and for producing unique and joy-filled experiences for kids during stressful times.”
YouTube Kids powers up The Google-owned platform wasted no time rolling out new content to help children cope with the pandemic. YouTube Kids curated 250 playlists spanning topics from healthy habits to indoor fun, and also launched educational content for under13s through its new Learn@Home hub. It teamed up with creators to emulate the camp experience, encourage reading and help kids adapt to being at home. In 2020, the YouTube Kids app also expanded significantly across 83 countries and 38 languages on new platforms including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Sky TV in order to better reach at-home co-viewers.
CBC Kids stays connected In 2020, CBC Kids’ website became a hub for news about COVID-19 and anti-Black racism. The pubcaster launched live digital specials including “PM Justin Trudeau Answers Kids’ Questions,” and an event
to celebrate thousands of kids graduating during the pandemic. The work paid off: Between August 2019 and July 2020, CBC Kids’ digital reach increased by 63% to more than 13 million views.
Moonbug The London-based company acquired major YouTube brands Cocomelon and Blippi to build its network of YouTube channels, which now have a collective subscriber reach of 235 million. Moonbug also launched its first original series, Mia’s Magic Playground; expanded its Little Baby Bum brand to more than 83 platforms; and inked licensing deals with toyco MGA.
Sesame Workshop Helping kids cope with a stressful 2020 was the name of the Workshop’s game this year. The company teamed up with meditation app Headspace to launch mindfulnessthemed animated shorts for kids. As part of its Caring for Each Other series, Sesame rolled out short videos showcasing Muppet characters’ daily moments. And it also released Helpsters Help You, which centers around a character helping families stay physically and mentally healthy.
WildBrain Spark Toronto-based WildBrain’s AVOD network experienced a surge of growth, closing out the year with more than 200 million subscribers and 47 billion views WildBrain Spark picked up new brands—including Dragamonz and Funrise—and launched the TOTS channel to help teach literacy. It also expanded into AR with a deal for new Teletubbies content.
Pinkfong Baby Shark kept on swimming in 2020, with subscribers increasing by 73% and views up 74%. Pinkfong released a new Baby Shark-themed video encouraging kids to wash their hands. And the “Baby Shark Dance” video earned 6.2 billion views on YouTube, becoming the second most viewed video in the platform’s history.
Kids research firm and app developer Dubit redesigned its content to capture the eyes of at-home audiences. It added camera tracking to GoNoodle’s mobile games to make it more movement-responsive, and created new videos and games for the Hooked on Phonics program. Additionally, Dubit pivoted a camp-focused app to an online experience.
Hopster The preschool SVOD added new features and shows to engage kids, such as a game that teaches children about healthy eating, and new originals about caring for the environment and healthy hygiene during the pandemic. In response to the rise in at-home learning, the SVOD also created Hopster School with curated content supported by offline learning resources.
Xilam Animation The French studio behind Zig & Sharko has racked up one billion combined monthly views across its YouTube channels. In 2020, Xilam launched a new YouTube channel for Where’s Chicky?, which is already generating 120 million hits each month. And the company’s presence in China is also growing, thanks to deals inked with platforms such as iQIYI, Tencent and Youku.