Amazon will launch its first three original TV shows for children this summer but will offer just the first six episodes of each, with additional installments slated to debut later in 2014.
The Amazon Studios kids’ originals are two preschool-targeted animated series — “Tumble Leaf” (pictured above), to debut May 23, and “Creative Galaxy” from “Blue’s Clues” co-creator Angela Santomero (June 27) — and live-action “Annedroids” (July 25) for kids 4-7.
The first six eps will be available all at once on those dates with seven more to be released later this year, exclusively to members of the ecommerce giant’s Prime free-shipping and video service. According to an Amazon rep, the back halves of the three shows are still in production, and “we want to get the first shows out for people, and children in this case, to enjoy.”
Amazon could benefit from effectively breaking each 13-ep series into two seasons: Ideally, the initial binge-viewing audience will stay with the service to catch the subsequent new episodes.
Kidvids are a key genre for subscription VOD, giving parents a tool to let their brood watch (and rewatch) TV entertainment without ads. Amazon last year notably cut a pact with Viacom for exclusive rights to several Nickelodeon shows, including “Dora the Explorer,” “Blue’s Clues” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.” Netflix, meanwhile, has cut exclusive deals for programming from Disney and DreamWorks Animation.
Amazon Studios has two other kid shows in the works for Prime Instant Video: It recently ordered to series live-action series “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street,” aimed at kids 6-11, and preschooler-targeted “Wishenpoof!,” also from Santomero.
“We’re working with some of the most renowned creators in the business to introduce programming that promotes lifelong learning through play,” said Tara Sorensen, Amazon Studio’s head of kids Programming at Amazon Studios. In developing the kids’ originals, Amazon has consulted with educational psychologist Dr. Alice Wilder, producer of and research and development director for “Blue’s Clues” and other shows.
Here are descriptions of the first batch of Amazon children’s series:
“Tumble Leaf”: Fig the Fox and his best friend, a caterpillar named Stick, discover adventure, friendship and love around every bend. Themes found in the show promote exploration and scientific thinking through play. From Emmy Award-winning director Drew Hodges and animation studio Bix Pix Entertainment. Voice talent includes Christopher Downs as Fig and Stick, Zac McDowell as Hedge, Addie Zintel as Pine, Brooke Wolloff as Maple and Alex Trugman as Ginkgo.
“Creative Galaxy”: Interactive art adventure series for preschoolers follows characters Arty and Epiphany traveling across the galaxy to solve problems with art, inspiring creative thinking through crafts, music and dance. Featuring Samantha Bee and Jason Jones (both of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”), Cloris Leachman (“Malcolm in the Middle”), Jason Priestley (“Beverly Hills 90210”) and 9-year-old Christian Distefano. A live-action segment at the end of each episode takes viewers through the craft project that Arty showcased in the galaxy.
“Annedroids”: Girl genius Anne, her human friends Nick and Shania, and Anne’s android assistants make amazing scientific discoveries while undertaking the biggest experiment of them all: growing up. Created by JJ Johnson (“Dino Dan”) and Sinking Ship Entertainment. Addison Holley (“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”) stars as Anne, with Adrianna Di Liello (“Stage Fright”) as Shania and Jadiel Dowlin as Nick.