×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Viacom Leads $15 Million Round in Pocket.watch, Sets Content and Ad Pact With Startup

Viacom is getting into business with Pocket.watch, leading a $15 million Series B funding round in the kids’ entertainment startup and the two companies setting a commercial partnership for content and advertising.

Under their commercial agreement, Viacom and Pocket.watch will develop and produce long- and short-form content and identify future kid creators and talent for digital and TV. In addition, Viacom will become the exclusive third-party agent for ad sales on Pocket.watch’s YouTube and creator footprint, which the media plans to package Nickelodeon inventory.

Pocket.watch and Viacom have already engaged in a variety of content initiatives together including developing “Skoogle,” the sketch-comedy show created by and starring Keenan Thompson for Nickelodeon, while Paramount Players (headed by Brian Robbins) has bought a pitch from Pocket.watch for a feature film currently titled “The Unboxing Movie.”

“It became clear there were areas of alignment between the two companies,” said founder and CEO Chris M. Williams (pictured above). “There’s strong opportunity to bring together our creators with the Viacom brands.” Pocket.watch creator partners will also be invited to a variety of Viacom events including the Kids Choice Awards.

Launched in March 2017, Pocket.watch has focused on enlisted kid-and-family-oriented YouTube creators, including Ryan ToysReview, EvanTubeHD, CaptainSparklez and HobbyKidsTV. The 20 YouTube channels that are part of Pocket.watch’s network currently deliver over 1 billion monthly views with a combined subscriber base of over 34 million.

Pocket.watch will use the new capital to extend licensing and merchandising, engage in brand deals with original intellectual property, and develop new programming franchises, Williams said.

This summer, the company will launch several consumer-facing initiatives, including in retail and with a subscription VOD partner. This fall, Pocket.watch will debut its first book, “Watch This Book!,” featuring Ryan ToysReview, HobbyKidsTV, JillianTubeHD, and EvanTubeHD. It’s the first in a series of books released under the Pocket.watch Books imprint through Simon Spotlight, a division of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

“Basically we’ve been setting up chess pieces for our consumer brand launch,” Williams said.

With the latest funding, Pocket.watch has raised $21 million to date. The latest round included participation from existing investor UTA Ventures and Greycroft’s Tracker fund, a new investor. Other backers include Third Wave Digital, CBS CEO Les Moonves, Robert Downey Jr. (through Team Downey) and producer Jon Landau. Williams declined to disclose Pocket.watch’s valuation with the funding, but said it was an up round (meaning the valuation increased).

Sarah Levy, COO of Viacom Media Networks, will join the Pocket.watch board alongside Williams. (In the next few weeks, Williams says he plans to name a third board member.)

“Pocket.watch’s unique and comprehensive approach to celebrating the new digital stars of today makes them an outstanding partner for Nickelodeon and our unmatched connections with kids around the world through video, digital and real-world events,” Levy said in a statement.

Pocket.watch’s executive team comprises several entertainment-biz veterans, including Williams (formerly with Maker Studios and Disney Online Originals; Albie Hecht, ex-head of Nickelodeon; entertainment lawyer Jon Moonves; and David B. Williams, formerly with Endemol Beyond USA and Maker.

Pocket.watch currently has about 40 full-time employees, based in Culver City, Calif. The company’s 8,000-square-foot headquarters includes studio space and offices.

More Digital

  • Camila Cabello

    Camila Cabello Reveals Podcast Obsessions, Teases New Album at Cannes Lions

    Camila Cabello was the featured speaker at a Tuesday afternoon panel at Cannes Lions, the annual gathering of marketing, design and entertainment professionals in the south of France. Joined by Spotify chief content officer Dawn Ostroff, the talk, moderated by Variety editor Shirley Halperin, was centered around the theme of the golden age of sound [...]

  • Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Quibi Has Already Booked $100 Million in Ad Sales, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman Say

    Quibi, the ambitious short-form video venture from Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, has sold $100 million in upfront ad inventory with six advertisers ahead of its April 2020 debut. Advertisers that have committed ad spending to Quibi include Google, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Walmart, Progressive and AB InBev, according to the company. The $100 [...]

  • China's iQIYI Signs Content, Channel Pact

    China's iQIYI Signs Content, Channel Pact With Malaysia's Astro

    Astro Malaysia, Malaysia’s leading pay-TV operator, has struck a strategic agreement with Chinese streaming platform iQIYI. Astro obtains the exclusive rights to deliver iQIYI content on TV, on-demand and via OTT in Malaysia. It will launch the first iQIYI-branded channel comprising iQIYI’s extensive slate of original content from drama to variety shows and movies. Astro [...]

  • Toy Story 4 Forky

    ‘Toy Story 4’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Disney Pixar claims the top spot in spending with “Toy Story 4.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.53 million through Sunday for 1,073 national ad airings on 38 networks. [...]

  • Murder Mystery

    Netflix Reveals Record-Breaking Stats for Sandler-Aniston 'Murder Mystery' Flick

    “Murder Mystery,” the latest Adam Sandler film to debut on Netflix, broke viewing records on the streaming service, the company revealed Tuesday. The film, which is co-headlined by Jennifer Aniston, was seen by close to 30.9 million households in its first 3 days, according to a tweet sent out Tuesday afternoon. 🚨ADAM SANDLER AND JENNIFER [...]

  • Charles Caldas To Step Down as

    Charles Caldas To Step Down as Merlin CEO

    Charles Caldas, the only CEO that the independent-label collective Merlin has ever known, announced today that he will step down from his post at the end of 2019, after more than 12 years at the helm of the global rights organization. He will continue his current duties until then and work with the Merlin board to [...]

  • Vice Media Digital Makeover Triggers Traffic

    Vice Media Digital Makeover Triggers Traffic Slide

    Life on its own online isn’t easy for Vice Media. Ending the digital publisher’s controversial practice of rolling up web traffic for partner sites into an aggregated number resulted in the total domestic traffic falling nearly by half between March 2019 and the following month, according to Comscore. The numbers improved slightly for May, when [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content