Netflix Kids & Family invites viewers to celebrate Black History Month with an entertaining, joyful selection of titles collected under Black Stories for Families. Highlights include NAACP Image Award-nominated animated series Ada Twist, Scientist (Season 1 & 2 streaming globally) and Karma’s World (S1 available, S2 coming soon), as well as the VFX-powered superkid show Raising Dion (S1 & S2 available). See more of the streamer’s February toon highlights here.
The Disney Bundle of streaming platforms is likewise continuing its promise to amplify Black stories across Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ with extra gusto for Black History Month. Disney+ will unlock content from across The Disney Bundle, offering its U.S. subscribers some of the most popular contemporary series, documentaries and specials in its Celebrate Black Stories collection. Among this month’s Disney animation highlights are:
- Rise Up, Sing Out (February 2, also airing on Disney Junior and Disney Channel): A series of animated, music-based shorts geared towards kids, parents and caregivers, designed to be inspiring, empowering and optimistic about race, culture, community and celebrating differences.
- The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder (February 23, Disney+ Original): Follow the continued adventures and misadventures of newly 14-year-old Penny Proud and her family as they navigate modern life with hilarity and heart. The 2020s bring a new career for mom Trudy, wilder dreams for dad Oscar and new challenges for Penny, including a socially woke neighbor who thinks she has a lot to teach her.
- Sneak peek more of the collection in the promo video.
A beacon of Black animation history is also in the spotlight on The Criterion Channel, which will present Floyd Norman: An Animated Life on February 7. The documentary film by Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey tells the story and celebrates the irrepressible spirit of Disney’s first Black animator. Norman made history when he joined the studio in 1956, and lent his talents to classics like Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians before being tapped by Walt Disney for the story team on The Jungle Book. The film catches up with Norman at age 80, and includes testimonials from friends and colleagues like Whoopi Goldberg and critic Leonard Maltin.
An Animated Life will be presented alongside a selection of short films and commercials produced by Norman’s indie studio Vignette Films.
WarnerMedia Kids & Family is set to begin its EMEA roll out for preschool brand, Cartoonito today. The brand, which will launch as a dedicated programming block across the region, offers a modern approach to preschool programming and is built to support each child’s unique potential with its educational framework, Humancentric Learning.
The EMEA roll out, starting with the Nordics, follows the launch of the Cartoonito brand in the U.S. in September 2021 on Cartoon Network and HBO Max. Key shows will include Thomas & Friends All Engines Go, Lucas the Spider, Little Ellen and Mush-Mush and the Mushables. These will sit alongside a growing slate of new and library series in a line-up that celebrates individuality and originality, while championing creativity, compassion and inclusion.
Cartoonito already exists as a linear channel in the U.K., building an audience share through 2021, and Italy, and as a programming block in the Middle East and Turkey. The rollout will give the brand a new look in these regions, alongside a growing slate of new and library series and global acquisitions set to launch across EMEA.
Animaccord’s Masha and the Bear has made some brilliant achievements in the past 12 months, most notably reaching 100 billion views on YouTube, which has reasonably increased the demand for the series. According to Parrot Analytics, the toon has been the #1 preschool show worldwide this year, with 36x more demand than the average show, putting it in the top 0.2% of all TV series across all platforms. Masha was again ranked as a Top-5 show among children (0-18) for 2020-2021, being more in-demand with global audiences than PAW Patrol (34.9x) and Peppa Pig (34.1x).
Masha and the Bear has been 101x more popular outside of its home market (Russia) than the average show, and had 32.9 times more longevity, meaning the show is still very relevant in its genre after over a decade. In the U.S. and U.K. markets, Masha falls into the ‘Outstanding bucket’, placing it in the top 3% of all shows and TV series. In addition to conquering the preschool market, the series also stacks up against recent global hits like Squid Game, Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye and Amazon Prime’s Wheel of Time, being ranked as doubly more in-demand.
In response to the decision by U.K. Government not to continue the Young Audiences Content Fund, Animation UK issued an official statement expressing disappointment and calls for a reversal of the decision, as well as an urgent review of children’s content and investment options (read the full statement here). Noting that children and young people are “25% of the audience and 100% of the future,” the org noted:
“The three-year pilot of the Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF) has had a huge impact. The YACF has increased output through the PSBs, and in just a few years delivered quality content for the audience. The process has been responsive and inclusive; the nature & range of content also meets regional and diversity criteria. Furthermore, this funding model is particularly beneficial for the independent sector as it offers access to both production and development funds. We know it succeeded in allowing new British voices across the U.K. to be shown on screen.”
More news bytes:
- Sandbox & Co, a London-based provider of digital learning products and services, has acquired PlayKids, a leading digital education platform in Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy.
- WarnerMedia Kids & Family announced multiple new acquisitions of Moonbug Entertainment‘s digital preschool content to Cartoonito on HBO Max and Cartoon Network, available now. These include animated series Blippi Wonders (premiering in April), CoComelon (the #1 most-watched brand on YouTube), Lellobee City Farm and Mia’s Magic Playground S2.
- Mondo TV Studios (Mondo TV Group) has inked a major sales agreement with Edye for Season 1 of the popular preschool animated series Cleo, an innovative production by La Casa Animada (Canary Islands). The 39 x 6′ series will launch in June on HITN TV’s Spanish-language SVOD (U.S./LatAm).