JoeCartoon.com, the Flash animation comedy site that launched Frog in a Blender, Gerbil in a Microwave and Lump: The No-Legged Dog, has been bought by Endemol, producer of the hit NBC game show Deal or No Deal. Endemol will expand the site’s content offerings to serve mobile operators worldwide and will also develop TV series based on the Joe Cartoon characters SuperFly, the Greenfields and Joe Mamma.
Mike Tuinstra, who launched Joe Cartoon with Joe Shields in 1998, tells us, ‘This gives us the opportunity to plug in to Endemol’s global network and provides us with resources to create more content and rebuild our site. Over the last couple of years, Joe and I have been releasing four pieces a year. Now we hope to do two pieces a month, including two-minute Super Fly episodes. We would like to increase our global presence since the lion’s share of our audience has been U.S.-based, while Endemol has a huge international reach.’
Tuinstra also says he and Shields would like to relaunch Joe Cartoon content as a Sunday night sketch comedy show for TV. ‘Now we’re focusing on a whole new generation of kids that don’t know about Joe Cartoon,’ he remarks. ‘Our goal is to get Joe in front of them. Our content is not going to change. Of course, we have to watch some our language for television, but we’re going to continue our outlaw, pirate feel through our online interactive content.’
The acquisition serves to illustrate Endemol’s commitment to the new media drive. The company has had success in this area with a text-messaging game based on Deal or No Deal and also has its own channel, Lazy TV, on AOL.com. In addition, Endemol has inked a deal to provide content for Comcast’s largely user-generated video site, Ziddio.
JoeCartoon.com is due for makeover and relaunch this June. The entity was one of the first profitable and enduring pioneers of the Internet animation boom of the late 90s. In 1999 alone, Frog in a Blender was downloaded 90 million times. Toon offerings from the company have since appeared on cable network G4 as part of its Wednesday night Happy Tree Friends & Friends block. Home video distributor BCI released the first DVD collection (JoeCartoon Greatest Hits Volume One) in April of 2006. and followed up with a second volume and a three-disc boxed set.