×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hulu, Amazon Stream Pocket.watch Kids Shows Featuring YouTube Stars (EXCLUSIVE)

Startup teams with Paramount to shop half-hour kids' series internationally

Pocket.watch has repackaged content from top YouTube kids franchises — including the mega-popular Ryan ToysReview channel — into half-hour TV show formats that are now streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

The startup is looking to sell the collection of TV shows internationally, too, through a pact with Paramount Pictures. The shows mark the latest line of business for Pocket.watch, launched in the spring of 2017 by CEO Chris M. Williams. The company’s strategy: to develop and launch internet-centric children’s media brands that yield multiple revenue streams.

“For us, it’s about a global extension into these long-form platforms,” said Williams, a former Disney and Maker Studios exec. “For our partners, it’s an opportunity to capture what kids are truly interested in and passionate about today.”

The first format is “Ultimate Mishmash,” which strings together best-of clips from Pocket.watch’s stable of YouTubers into 22-minute episodes. The initial series, drawing from some 10,000 YouTube videos, are individually dedicated to five creator partners: Ryan ToysReview — a channel starring the titular 7-year-old toy-unboxer and his family that has more than 25 billion views to date — toy-review channel HobbyKidsTV, EvanTubeHD, JillianTubeHD and video-gamer CaptainSparklez.

The startup also has produced 15 episodes of “Pocket.watch Challenge Squad,” an original half-hour series based on the popular YouTube challenge format. The show features the same cast as the Pocket.watch-operated YouTube channel of the same name, which now has over 130,000 subscribers. In the “Challenge Squad” TV series, produced at the company’s studio in Culver City, Calif., the team engages in different playful challenges, like human bowling and an Oreo taste-test.

Hulu has licensed a total of 90 episodes from Pocket.watch on a nonexclusive basis. Those comprise 15 episodes each of the five “Ultimate Mishmash” series and the “Pocket.watch Challenge Squad” set.

Amazon Prime Video carries a selection of about 40 episodes of the new Pocket.watch shows in the U.S., through the ecommerce giant’s self-publishing program. Pocket.watch receives a cut of Prime subscription revenue, based on viewing time. With Amazon, Williams’ key interest is in the metrics: “We want to get back data on minutes streamed and how these shows perform relative to other programming.”

Pocket.watch didn’t approach Netflix about licensing the long-form shows, according to Williams. Hulu was the preferred partner because it’s U.S.-only, and Netflix typically seeks worldwide rights. “Our model is very oriented to being able to sell [the shows] internationally,” Williams said.

In addition to “Ultimate Mishmash” and “Challenge Squad,” the company has begun production on a sixth new TV series: “Pocket.watch Digital Superstars.” That will mash up popular videos from its YouTube creator affiliates and the Challenge Squad in 22-minute episodes hosted by Bubbles, a kid-friendly dog puppet. The first 26 episodes will be available for distribution this winter.

Paramount Pictures Worldwide Television Licensing & Distribution will package all 116 episodes of Pocket.watch’s six-show lineup and pitch them to non-U.S. distributors, starting at Mipcom next week in Cannes.

“My clients around the world are trying to reach today’s kids and young adults — and they’re hard to find,” said Dan Cohen, president of worldwide TV licensing and distribution at Paramount. “Kids are on YouTube, engaged with personalities that Chris has signed, and bringing [international networks and streaming services] content they can use in a traditional space will be very attractive for them.”

Viacom, Paramount’s parent, led a $15 million funding round in Pocket.watch this summer. “That triggered the light bulb for me,” Cohen said. “As soon as Viacom invested, I called [Williams] to see how we could work together,” adding that Paramount doesn’t have much kids’ television content in its portfolio.

Down the line, Pocket.watch is eyeing additional TV shows adapted from YouTube, including more “Mishmash” installments and new formats (e.g., a potential series based on the “try not to laugh” genre). “The ability to create more of these is something we can do fairly easily,” Williams said. “This is an incremental revenue stream, and ultimately one we believe will scale really well.”

Conceptually, the “Ultimate Mishmash” is akin to “America’s Funniest Videos” or Jukin Media’s FailArmy series compiling viral-video hits. Ryan ToysReview’s “Mishmash” is hosted by Combo Panda, an animated game-playing character that’s part of Ryan’s YouTube network. CaptainSparkelz, the internet handle of gamer Jordan Maron, hosts his own series; the others are presented by “dot,” a new animated character created by Pocket.watch (a reference to the dot in its name).

The new Pocket.watch TV shows are in addition to other long-form projects the company has in development, including a live-action kids sitcom created by and starring Kenan Thompson (of “Saturday Night Live”) called “Skoogle” with Nickelodeon.

And the company is now in the merchandise biz: Last month, the company debuted Ryan’s World, a line of Pocket.watch-branded toys and apparel from Ryan ToysReview, which launched at Walmart stores nationwide and has expanded to Target and other retailers.

Pocket.watch also is about to drop its first book. “Watch this Book!,” with an Oct. 23 release date, is the first title under its imprint with Simon & Schuster’s Simon Spotlight. The tome promises a behind-the-videos look into the lives of Ryan ToysReview, HobbyKidsTV, EvanTubeHD and JillianTubeHD, with an introduction by CaptainSparklez.

More TV

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Whiskey Tango Cavalier

    TV Review: 'Whiskey Cavalier'

    The crux of “Whiskey Cavalier” can be found right in its protagonist’s name. “Will Chase” is a purposefully ridiculous wink of a name that tries to be both debonair and very silly all at once, just like the FBI agent (played by Scott Foley) to which it belongs. This isn’t a regular spy drama, “Whiskey [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Malik Yoba to Reprise Role in 'New York Undercover' Reboot at ABC

    Malik Yoba, who starred as Detective J.C. Williams in the 90s show “New York Undercover,” is set to reprise the role in the ABC reboot, sources tell Variety. Picking up 20 years after the end of the original series, “New York Undercover” will follow detectives Nat Gilmore and Melissa Ortiz as they investigate the city’s [...]

  • Chris Burrous dead KTLA anchor

    KTLA Anchor Chris Burrous' Cause of Death Released

    An investigative report on KTLA anchor Chris Burrous has determined that his cause of death was attributed to methamphetamine toxicity, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Burrous, 43, was found unconscious at a motel in Glendale, Calif on December 27, and later died at the hospital. The death has been ruled as accidental. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER: Rabbit in the

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of Feb. 11: 'Masked Singer' Easily Tops Competition

    Fox’s “The Masked Singer” was the highest-rated broadcast show of the week in both Live+Same Day and Live+3. For the week of Feb. 11, the unscripted singing competition series went from a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 to a 3.4, a rise of 42%. In total viewers, the show went from 7.8 million viewers to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content