×

Pocket.watch Sets Projects With MarMar, Onyx Family and Other YouTube Creators

Pocket.watch, a digital-first kids’ media company, has signed overall deals with two big YouTube channels in its wheelhouse — MarMar and the Onyx Family — and is gearing up to launch new programming with both of them, as well as with existing partners EvanTube, JillianTube and HobbyKids TV.

Pocket.watch is the studio behind “Ryan’s Mystery Playdate” on Nickelodeon, starring the 7-year-old kid in Ryan Toys Review, one of the most popular YouTube channels for kids. Since its debut last month, “Ryan’s Mystery Playdate” has become the No. 1 preschool show on TV.

The company’s strategy is to take popular YouTube personalities and boost their digital audiences with premium original content in new formats. For example, it has variety-show kids’ channel in the works with MarMar (Marlin Ramsey Chan) and an an animated series with the Onyx Family. Then, the idea is to launch them into new areas like TV, movies, games and merchandise, as Pocket.watch has done with Ryan, said founder and CEO Chris M. Williams.

“YouTube is certainly not in the league of TV [in terms of economics] but the ability to use that frequency of connection between creator and fan really lends itself to the extension model,” Williams said.

Pocket.watch thinks of YouTube content the way Marvel thinks about comic books, according to Williams: “We start with these fabulous fanbases on YouTube. And we can extend that [audience] to other platforms pretty quickly.”

Here’s a rundown of Pocket.watch’s new slate:

  • “MarMar Land”: Marlin Ramsey Chan, the creator behind the MarMar channel on YouTube (3.3 million subscribers), is working with Pocket.watch to create MarMar Land, an open-ended, challenge-driven fantasy children’s YouTube channel. Designed “to delight, surprise, educate and inspire,” MarMar Land will include interactive elements like puppets, song and dance. Slated to debut July 2019.
  • “Onyx Family Monster Mysteries”: The company is working with the Onyx Family to create an animated adventure comedy, described as “Scooby Doo” meets “Ghostbusters.” In each 7-minute episode, the family will rescue and bring monsters back to Atlas Island for the monsters’ own good. Set to launch in the first quarter of 2020.
  • “HobbyKids Adventures!”: Animated adventure-comedy series featuring the YouTube channel’s brothers HobbyPig, HobbyFrog and HobbyBear. Created by Butch Hartman (“Fairly OddParents,” “Danny Phantom”), the show transports the trio of cartoon adventurers to lands far and near in their time-bending Giant Egg (modeled after the Giant Surprise Egg featured in their popular YouTube videos). Launches on YouTube June 22 with 7-minute episodes.
  • “Jillian’s Mystery Box of Craft”: Live-action hybrid of “Chopped Jr.” and “Project Runway” in which Jillian is challenged by fellow YouTube craft queens to create a DIY project with a basket of mystery items, the bare essentials, and some sabotages (a la EvanTube) along the way. To premiere in August with 11-minute episodes..
  • “EvanTube’s Dollar Toy Squad”: Stop-motion animation/live-action hybrid comedy starring EvanTube and JillianTube, who receive a mystery box every week containing the mixed-media adventures of a ragtag team of plastic bootleg toys from the dollar store as they thwart the evil plans of Rust-O-Tin and his cohort of evil toys. Slated to debut fall 2019 with 11-minute episodes.

The company’s model isn’t to mass-produce shows and push them out all at once, but to handcraft content with each creator individually, said Albie Hecht, Pocket.watch’s chief content officer and former president of Nickelodeon. “Creatively, it’s the ability to work with YouTubers who may not have experience with animation or a TV-level style of production.”

Launching content on YouTube also lets Pocket.watch quickly evaluate which shows are getting traction and which ones aren’t, Hecht said.

The YouTubers cultivated by Pocket.watch have the potential to capture big audiences in other media. Since its recent April 19, “Ryan’s Mystery Playdate” has reached over 15 million total viewers delivering ratings for Nick +30% with kids 2-5 and +60% for the 2-11 demo versus comparable 2017 periods. On Nick’s digital platforms, “Ryan’s Mystery Playdate” has garnered over 6 million full episode views in three weeks, representing a massive audience for a new preschool series.

“This is the result of franchise building,” said Williams. “It’s not a YouTube star launching a television show — it’s a franchise coming to TV.” He added that Ryan Toys Review-licensed merchandise is projected to hit sales in the “nine figures” this year.

Culver City, Calif.-based Pocket.watch investors include Viacom, which led a $15 million funding round last year, along with UTA Ventures, Greycroft’s Tracker fund, Third Wave Digital, Les Moonves, Robert Downey Jr. (through Team Downey) and producer Jon Landau.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Elite Season 2

    San Sebastian: Spain’s SVOD Players Debate Competition, Brand, Talent

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Executives from HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Movistar+ and “Elite” co-creator Darío Madrona took to the stage to field questions on the Global Impact of Spanish Series. Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.Spain First “La Casa de Papel” was watched by 34,355,956 Netflix accounts over its first seven days,  after a July 19 [...]

  • Tinder - Swipe Night

    Tinder's Apocalyptic 'Swipe Night' Interactive Dating Show Sets Release Date

    Tinder next month will bow its first original entertainment content — “Swipe Night,” an interactive adventure series in which viewers are forced to make dating choices on humanity’s last night on Earth. Variety previously reported details of the location-based social network/dating app service’s foray into original content, which recently wrapped production in Mexico City and [...]

  • Editorial Use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    YouTube Rolls Back Verification Changes, Says Verified Creators Can Keep Their Badge

    A day after announcing significant changes to its verification program, YouTube announced Friday afternoon that it won’t be de-verifying existing creators after all. “We heard loud and clear how much the badge means to you,” said YouTube product manager Jonathan McPhie in a blog post. “Channels that already have the verification badge will now keep it [...]

  • BLive: BitTorrent Live Streaming App to

    BitTorrent to Launch Public Beta of New Live Streaming App

    BitTorrent is getting ready to open the floodgates for its new live streaming app, dubbed BitTorrent Live: The company plans to launch a BitTorrent Live Android app on various app stores as part of a public beta test late Friday, according to a spokesperson. BitTorrent Live, which is also known as BLive, is being described [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Facebook

    Facebook Suspends Tens of Thousands of Apps During Privacy Investigation

    Facebook has suspended tens of thousands of apps ever since it began investigating potential privacy abuses, the company said Friday. The apps in question had been built by around 400 developers, and a suspension doesn’t necessarily indicate actual privacy violations. Facebook began combing through millions of apps that made use of its platform after the [...]

  • tivo logo

    Tivo Plans to Launch Android TV Dongle, Tivo+ Curation App

    DVR maker Tivo is getting ready to release a new device that may not record television at all: The company plans to launch a $50 Roku-like TV dongle early next year, its new CEO Dave Shull revealed in a conversation with CNN this week. The new device will be powered by Google’s Android TV platform, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content