YouTube earlier this year wound down most of its originals division, in a significant pullback on its investment in scripted and unscripted programming.
But it’s not totally out of the game: YouTube is continuing to bulk up its slate of kids and family originals, as part of its previously announced $100 million fund earmarked for kids, family and educational content.
YouTube announced the greenlight of four new projects: “Mindful Adventures of Unicorn Island,” an animated series from Lilly Singh set to premiere in 2023; “The Big Tiny Food Face-Off” from B17 Entertainment; “Buster’s Big Halloween” from Moonbug Entertainment; and music series “Jam Van.”
YouTube also announced the Season 2 renewal of popular preschool series “Tab Time,” starring Tabitha Brown, an actress, vegan foodie and mother — aka “America’s mom.” Tabitha (or “Ms. Tab” as the kids call her) taps into her skills as a cook, storyteller, mom and motivational leader, to teach children how to live their best life. Season 2 will comprise 10 episodes of 22 minutes each that will begin to roll out this fall.
In addition, YouTube Kids & Family has 18 projects in development, including kids’ cooking show “The Magic Cookbook” from executive producer Whoopi Goldberg. The announcements come ahead of YouTube’s May 17 upfront presentation in New York City for marketers and ad buyers.
The Google-owned video giant says the kids and family content is created under YouTube’s “Ready to Be You” learning framework in collaboration with experts worldwide, producing programming that encourages children to explore their world, ask questions and practice new skills.
“We are proud of our new kids slate, which is supercharged with learning, diversity and fun,” said Craig Hunter, global head of kids and family for YouTube Originals. “Our programming has been designed to represent a wide landscape of children’s intersecting cultures and identities.”
Nadine Zylstra is the global head of YouTube Originals, previously YouTube’s head of kids and learning originals. She took over for Susanne Daniels, who left YouTube earlier this year with the platform’s content strategy shift.
Details of the upcoming YouTube Kids & Family content:
Show Premieres in 2022
- “Corpse Talk” (Premieres May 13): Based on the popular graphic novel series of the same name by Adam and Lisa Murphy, the comedy-led chat show is hosted by history-loving Adam (voiced by British actor and YouTube creator Joe Sugg), who is very much alive — even though his famous guests are not. In each episode, Adam will dig up the dirt on some of the most famous, infamous and incredible figures in history, unearthing the unknown and surprising stories from these amazing characters. “Corpse Talk” will premiere on the Cartoons for Kids YouTube channel with lineup of famous guests including Mozart, Ching Shih, Cleopatra, Josephine Baker and Ibn Al-Haytham. Produced by Tiger Aspect Kids and Family (“Mr. Bean”) in the U.K., part of Banijay Kids & Family.
- “The Guava Juice Show” (Premieres June 4): Animated series follows the extraordinary adventures of 14-year-old Roi (voiced by YouTube creator Roi Fabito, aka “Guava Juice”) and his best friends — Jenny (Bethany Brown) and safety-conscious talking guava fruit Guava (Adrian Petriw) — as they work at a mysterious curio shop and travel to parallel worlds and dimensions throughout the multiverse in a magical bathtub. Produced by Studio71 and Mainframe Studios.
- “Super Sema” (Season 2 premieres June 17): The African animated series, produced by Kukua’s female-led team including Oscar-winning actor Lupita Nyong’o, follows the adventures of superhero girl Sema as she uses her “technovation” skills to change the world and help protect her town of Dunia from the villainous robot Tobor.
- “The Big Tiny Food Face-Off” (Premieres July 15): Three kid contestants battle it out in each episode to make mini dishes that pack real flavor and showcase their flair for the diminutive. Produced by B17 Entertainment, it will premiere on the Tasty YouTube channel.
- “Tab Time” Season 2 (Fall 2022): From Kids at Play and Scale Productions, the preschool series starring Tabitha “Ms. Tab” Brown returns for a second season. Season 1 premiered on Brown’s YouTube channel and the YouTube Kids app on Dec. 1, 2021. Each episode features a celebrity guest as a Super Cool Expert in Tab’s Lab and two children who join for craft activities that kids can also do at home.
- “Buster’s Big Halloween”: The star of animated series “Go Buster” and “Buster Saves Christmas” gets an all-new Halloween special for preschoolers in which Buster, his cousin Bella Bus, and all his friends must save Halloween before the big parade. From Moonbug Entertainment.
- “The Eggventurers”: From the producers of the GoldieBlox YouTube channel, the preschool animated series features a zany cast of thrill-seeking egg characters who build spectacular Rube Goldberg machines to help them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
- “Jam Van”: The road-tripping original music series for preschool kids and families comes from the team of Believe Entertainment Group (“Dear Basketball”), animation studio Global Mechanic and composer-producer Bill Sherman (“Hamilton,” “In the Heights,” “Sesame Street”). In each episode, best friends Lamb and Anne the Alligator travel to a new location around the country to visit musicians and celebrities, culminating in a new music video with positive social-emotional lessons.
Show Premieres in 2023
“Mindful Adventures of Unicorn Island”: Featuring actor, YouTube creator, producer Lilly Singh, the animated series incorporates mindfulness principles to help kids gain emotion-regulation skills to make sense of challenges in their life. In each episode, young Lilly is transported to Unicorn Island, a colorful wonderland where life’s struggles manifest in fantastical ways. (Documentary film “A Trip to Unicorn Island,” about Singh’s 2015 worldwide comedy tour, was one the first YouTube originals.) With the help of her imaginary friends, Lilly learns new mindfulness activities to overcome her troubles and brings those skills back to the real world to deal with her real problems. The series is produced by Headspace Studios, Singh’s Unicorn Island Productions and Kara Lee Burk.
Featured Projects in Development
- “The Magic Cookbook”: From executive producer Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Leonardis, and Nobody’s Hero and ITV America, the high-concept, hybrid school-age cooking show blends fantasy and real-life elements. In each episode, a young aspiring chef who wants to create a truly incredible meal for a particular person or event arrives at the bookstore where The Owner (Goldberg) allows them to search the Magic Cookbook and then travel across time and space to learn more about the dish and its recipe, culture and history, before returning to prepare the actual meal in the real world.
- “The Ann Ziety Show”: Created by GraveRobber Productions, the animated comedy series for school-age kids and tweens follows the soap opera adventures of preteen Rachel (singer-songwriter Julia Michaels) and her imaginary frenemy Ann Ziety (actor Gina Rodriguez) using humor and empathy to destigmatize the conversation around mental health. Each episode explores how kids deal with anxiety and presents specific coping skills, like imagining your safe space, accessing your inner wisdom, opposite action and remote control.
- “Bob the Train”: The YouTube preschool franchise takes Bob and his friends to new levels in a brand-new series. With the help of friends, Bob navigates the challenges, fun and excitement of Toot Town through songs and lessons on perseverance, self-help and friendship. Produced by Mumbai-based USP Studios.
- “Maddie’s Urban Jungles”: Series for primary schoolers features kid explorers alongside host Maddie Moate as they seek out wild refuges and green sanctuaries within their home cities. Zoologist Claudia Zenkert executive produces with American filmmaker Brady Valashinas, through her German production company Seetree.
The new projects join YouTube’s roster of kids and family originals. Those include popular series “Lockdown,” “Onyx Family Dinner” and “Fruit Ninja Frenzy Force” as well as ”Millie & Lou,” “Coyote Peterson’s Wild Field Trip,” “Supa Strikas: Rookie Season,” “BookTube Jr.,” “Get Curious with Vice President Harris,” “Growing With Lottie Dottie,” “The Workout Badges,” “Kid Correspondent,” “Break the Record,” “Pinkfong Wonderstar,” “Sherwood,” “We Are Savvy,” “Hyperlinked,” “Kings of Atlantis” and “DanTDM Creates a Big Scene.”
According to YouTube, one-third of the its kids and family content is available in multiple languages.
Watch a sizzle reel of the new slate: