Pocket.watch, the children’s digital-media startup backed by several Hollywood notables, has inked its first creator partnership with HobbyKidsTV, which specializes in toy reviews and other family-oriented content across 10 YouTube channels that generate some 200 million views monthly.
Pocket.watch was formed last year by CEO Chris M. Williams, former chief audience officer at Maker Studios and GM of Disney Online Originals. The Culver City, Calif.-based company’s management team includes chief content officer Albie Hecht, former head of Nickelodeon, and chief strategy officer Jon Moonves, an entertainment lawyer (who is the brother of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves).
Jon Moonves says HobbyKidsTV — which is targeting kids 11 and younger — will be one of about a dozen partnerships Pocket.watch expects to sign with top YouTube creators. But the model is different from YouTube multichannel network: HobbyKidsTV has an equity stake in Pocket.watch and as part-owners will provide input on the direction of the company.
“It’s designed to align our interests, where they’re rooting for Pocket.watch to do well, and we’re rooting for them to do well,” he said. “That’s what makes it different from an MCN.” Moonves declined to reveal financial details of the deal, including the size of the stake granted to HobbyKidsTV.
HobbyKidsTV, launched in 2013, previously had been affiliated with Disney’s Maker Studios. It was among the first YouTube kids’ channels to feature the unveiling of the prizes inside toy eggs, a sub-genre of the popular “unboxing” videos. The HobbyKidsTV family, which lives in the L.A. area, prefers to remain anonymous. They produce a steady stream of videos featuring HobbyDad, HobbyMom, and their three kids — known as HobbyPig, HobbyFrog and HobbyBear — along with other collaborators.
“We respect what these creators have done,” Jon Moonves said. “We said, ‘We’re not snobs – let’s see what we can do with this.’ Not only does HobbyKidsTV have enormous reach, but they have uniquely risen above the YouTube fray to establish a widely recognized, high-quality brand.”
One of the first projects Pocket.watch is developing with HobbyKidsTV is a new animated series, and the company is in talks with a publisher on a series of books related to the brand. Also under the pact, Pocket.watch has exclusive rights to HobbyKidsTV’s library of 3,000-plus videos for packaging and distribution on Pocket.watch-branded offerings off YouTube. The deal encompasses other jointly created intellectual property, such as apps, toys and other merchandise.
In a statement provided by Pocket.watch, “HobbyDad” commented: “Success on YouTube has given us a great foundation, and we are thrilled to tap into Pocket.watch’s deep knowledge, resources and relationships to entertain and connect with more fans, in more ways than ever before.”
Last month, Pocket.watch announced $6 million in Series A funding led by Allen DeBevoise’s Third Wave Digital with participation from investors including Leslie Moonves; film producer Jon Landau; UTA; Robert Downey Jr.’s Downey Ventures; WME’s Chris Jacquemin; and Defy Media CEO Matt Diamond.