Branded video platforms for preschoolers have been active in the licensing business of late, especially in the toy segment:
- Treasure Studio signed Jazwares for a toy line based on the YouTube channel CoComelon. Founded in 2006, the channel has more than 72 million subscribers and 2.5 billion monthly views. The stories and characters seen in the 3D-animated educational videos, which emphasize music, are being translated into plush, vehicles, bath toys, role play, and figurines. Plans are in place for other merchandise to follow.
- Moonbug licensed the U.K.-rooted YouTube channel Little Baby Bum to MGA Entertainment’s Little Tikes, with toys released last October in the U.S. and earlier this year in the U.K. The music-driven 3D videos on the channel, which has accumulated 30 billion views and is now available on a variety of streaming platforms, have inspired musical storybooks, plush, activity climbers, push toys/ride-ons, memory games, sing-along pianos, and construction blocks. Moonbug purchased Little Baby Bum in 2018; it was founded in 2011. In the past, the property was licensed for books from Parragon and plush from Commonwealth Toy.
- Kids II has licensed Baby Einstein to a handful of partners of late, including Caribu for digital versions of Baby Einstein books, Cottage Door Press and Phoenix International Publications for different book formats, and Mary Meyer for a Baby Einstein First Discoveries plush line. (There have been other bursts of licensing in the past.) A former licensee of the property, Kids II purchased Baby Einstein from the Walt Disney Company, which had owned it since 2001, in 2018. It produces musical plush, play gyms and playsets, motion activity sets, rattles, instruments, soft toys, blocks, and walkers under the brand. The 2D-animated content started out in physical home entertainment formats, but is now available on YouTube.
- ChuChu TV signed Moose Toys in 2018 for preschool dolls and plush toys. In 2019, Brandgenuity took over licensing in North America for the channel, which at the time of the announcement in March had 23 billion views and 36 million subscribers. Dream Theatre is the global representative. ChuChu TV was founded in India in 2013, with the U.S. being one of the top three territories globally. Plans for licensing include publishing and back-to-school items, among others; the channel reaches children 3 to 8.
- Walt Disney U.K. is reportedly planning to relaunch a licensing effort for BabyTV, a global television channel that premiered in 2003. The channel is available in over 100 countries in multiple languages. Its original shows are created for parents and their preschoolers to watch together. Disney acquired BabyTV along with its purchase of 20th Century Fox; the latter had done some licensing in international territories in the early to mid-2010s. Products at that time included toys with Ansaldo, books from V&R Editoras, apparel with La Polar and Apolo Zona Libre, and party goods with Party Express, all in Latin America, as well as personalized books with Itsyourstory in the U.K., among others.
Most of these brands are similar to each other in that their streaming content typically features a lot of public domain songs, along with original animated characters and some newly created entertainment. The shows on the channels tend to be simple to produce but, as the viewership numbers show, are loved by preschoolers, especially those on the lower end of the age range, and their parents.
It should be noted that the online content space for preschoolers is not just limited to these branded channels. Celebrity-driven YouTube channels such as Ryan’s World and Blippi are extending into merchandise in a big way, as are streaming entertainment properties such as Netflix’s Go! Go! Cory Carson, recently licensed to Vtech, among many more.
The rise of branded content platforms for preschoolers was one of the trends noted at Toy Fair New York 2020, held at the Javits Center February 22-25. RaugustReports’ detailed wrap-up of all the trends impacting licensing has just been posted. Read it here.