Nick Jr. Seals Deal for Mattel’s ‘Thomas & Friends’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Iconic children’s series “Thomas & Friends” is headed to Viacom’s Nick Jr. in the U.S. PBS has been the animated show’s longtime home, but the series and specials featuring the beloved tank engine are now switching tracks to Nick Jr.

Mattel owns the property, and its deal with Nick also sees the kids’ net become its exclusive consumer products agent for various categories of “Thomas & Friends” merchandise.

“Securing Nick Jr. as our new home for ‘Thomas & Friends’ is a huge game changer for the brand franchise and one that, alongside our re-imagined content direction, will enable us to captivate new audiences as well as deepen engagement with our existing fans in the U.S.,” said Kate Schlomann, VP & global brand GM for “Thomas & Friends.”

She added: “The brand is undergoing a huge evolution to ensure that it remains relevant and competitive for today’s audiences.”

Schlomann was alluding to a series makeover that will see new characters, some developed in association with the United Nations, added to the ranks. Thomas himself will venture from his home island of Sodor for adventures around the world.

Nick Jr. will have the show’s new season – its 21st – from March, and then the new-look show, “Thomas & Friends: Big World! Big Adventures!” later. It also gets the 80-minute “Thomas & Friends: Big World! Big Adventures! The Movie” as part of its agreement with Mattel.

“Thomas & Friends” is based on the classic Thomas the Tank Engine books by W. Awdry. The animated preschool show is on air in more than 160 countries.

The show’s “‘iconic characters and engaging stories have resonated with kids for decades, and we believe the new seasons will be a great complement to Nickelodeon’s curriculum-driven preschool programming,” said Pam Kaufman, CMO and president, Nickelodeon Consumer Products.

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