Moonbug, dual-headquartered in London and L.A., has set out on a mission to acquire “fun and safe” kids’ entertainment properties and develop new content and businesses based on them. Yeatman, as head of the Americas for Moonbug, oversees creative and commercial operations in the region out of its recently opened Los Angeles office.
The startup was founded last year by CEO René Rechtman, most recently head of digital studios at the Walt Disney Co. International and before that international head of Maker Studios, and chief operating officer John Robson, former head of international digital distribution at Paramount Pictures and VP of global content at HTC. Last month, Moonbug announced $145 million in first-round funding led by the Raine Group, with participation from others including venture-capital firms Felix Capital and Fertitta Capital.
At Netflix, Yeatman was director of kids and family programming, growing the streaming company’s originals slate in the category from two titles in 2014 to 40 in 2017. Those include “Alexa and Katie,” “Ask the Storybots,” “Trollhunters,” “Beat Bugs,” “Chasing Cameron,” “Julie’s Greenroom” with Julie Andrews, “Magic School Bus Rides Again” and “Project MC2.” Yeatman also led Netflix’s kids and family programming strategy and acquisitions globally.
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Netflix fired Yeatman in December 2017 over a comment he made concerning sexual-assault accusations against actor Danny Masterson of Netflix comedy “The Ranch” (who was later booted from the show). Yeatman was asked by a woman who approached him at his daughter’s soccer game about Netflix’s inaction on the Masterson allegations, and Yeatman suggested to her that the company didn’t believe the accusers. Asked about what happened, Yeatman said, “It was an unfortunate incident. It was a careless comment. I regret it. I don’t blame anyone else but myself.” He added that working at Netflix “was one of the greatest experiences of my career.”
After leaving Netflix, Yeatman set up his own consulting firm focused on kids-and-family digital media before connecting with Moonbug’s principals last year and then joining the team. “This is exactly the kind of company I wanted to be part of,” he said.
In a statement, Rechtman said, “Andy is one of the most accomplished and respected executives in children’s entertainment — and he has the accolades to prove it. He is an outstanding addition to our team and his unique industry knowledge combined with his expertise in the American market is a huge asset for us.”
Moonbug’s first acquisition was Little Baby Bum, a YouTube channel focused on nursery rhymes and kids’ songs, which has generated 23 billion video views to date and has sold shows to services including Netflix and Amazon. In fact, Yeatman led the deal for Little Baby Bum’s “Nursery Rhyme Friends” series when he was at Netflix.
The startup has deals for other kids’ media brands in the offing. “We are acquiring digital-first IP [intellectual property] that has passionate audiences around the world,” Yeatman said. Moonbug, which has about 40 employees, is looking to staff up the Hollywood office with additional creative, commercial production, sales and licensing personnel.
Yeatman noted that Little Baby Bum’s “Wheels on the Bus” song-compilation video on YouTube is one of the most-watched videos on the platform, with over 2.1 billion views to date. “Music is a theme that will run through our portfolio,” Yeatman said.
Moonbug is focused on content for kids 8 and under that promotes “compassion, empathy and resilience.” The company’s plan is to develop and license spinoff shows featuring various characters, as well as grow advertising and create brand extensions like merchandise, music, games, and live events.
While at Netflix, Yeatman closed licensing or production deals with content companies including Disney, DreamWorks Animation, eOne, Hasbro, Lego, Mattel, Nickelodeon and Warner Bros. Under his tenure, Netflix’s kids and family shows received 30 Daytime Emmy Awards and 100 total nominations.
Before joining Netflix in early 2011, Yeatman worked in digital distribution for Walt Disney Studios, where he negotiated movie distribution deals with platforms including Hulu, Apple’s iTunes, Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox. He also helped develop Disney’s initial business plan for a direct-to-consumer movie service. Earlier in his career, Yeatman worked at companies including Ascent Media Group, Verizon and CIBC World Markets.