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Listen: How Pocket.watch Disrupted the Holiday Toy Biz

Multibillion-dollar franchises like “SpongeBob SquarePants” used to require traditional media like TV or film as launch pad. But the new kid-targeted brand Pocket.watch is proving with YouTube sensation Ryan’s World that the internet can also be the breeding ground for a consumer-products phenomenon.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Strictly Business” below:

“We were basically out there pounding the table saying, ‘No, that’s the old way,'” recounts Pocket.watch CEO Chris Williams on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” “The new way is on YouTube where there is this massive audience of kids consuming content around kids like Ryan. That can be the center of gravity for the multiple revenue stream business that is typically associated with a kids franchise.”

One of a handful of kids properties being groomed for multi-platform success, Ryan’s World attracts 50 million viewers per month — an audience that can now choose from 18 different branded products currently available in 2,500 Walmart stores across the country. After six months on the shelves, Ryan’s World is on its way to nine-figure revenues, according to Williams.

“We really felt these new stars and formats that were becoming incredibly popular on YouTube had huge opportunity to be more widely distributed both from a business perspective and content perspective than just on YouTube,” he said.

No wonder Williams has attracted some prominent backers from UTA to Robert Downey Jr. to Viacom, which could learn a thing or two from Pocket.watch for figuring out the future of its own kids brand, Nickelodeon.

“Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Check out previous “Strictly Business” episodes featuring comedian/actor/producer Kevin Hart, ICM Partners agent Esther Newberg, and HBO chairman/CEO Richard Plepler. A new episode debuts each Tuesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

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