Netflix Catches Pokemon Animated Exclusives, Bolstering

Pokémon animated series and films are bounding into Netflix’s queue shortly after Hulu licensed a different set of titles based on the worldwide Japanese monster franchise — moves that underscore the importance of children’s programming to Internet streaming services.

Netflix has exclusive subscription video-on-demand rights to the Pokémon content, which will be available starting Saturday, March 1.

Under the Netflix deal with the Pokémon Co. Intl., the streaming service obtains exclusive rights to “Pokémon: Black & White” (pictured above), the 14th season of the animated series comprising 48 episodes, which will be available in all Netflix territories. In addition, the first season of the “Pokémon: Indigo League” series will be available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Ireland. That series introduces the world of Pokémon through Ash and his partner Pikachu as Ash strives to become a Pokémon Master.

Netflix also will add two movies, available in all territories: “Pokémon the Movie: Black – Victini and Reshiram” and “Pokémon the Movie: White – Victini and Zekrom.”

Pokémon Co. Intl. licensed an entirely separate set of titles to Hulu, which is using the toons to help drive subs to its own premium service, Hulu Plus. Hulu has U.S. rights to the Pokémon season 10 animated series (the “Diamond & Pearl” storyline) with seasons 11-13 coming later; the full four-part “Pokémon Origins” animated special; and four feature-length animated movies.

Pokémon, first introduced in 1996 as a Nintendo game, has been a global smash hit with kids — and many adults. To date, more than 245 million videogames and 20 billion Pokémon trading cards have been sold. The company’s animation library includes more than 700 animation episodes and 16 full-length animated films.

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