NBCUniversal Global Distribution’s Kids and Family roster includes a slew of brands, including those based on the iconic DreamWorks IP. From Dragons at Madagascar, Trolls at jurassic world, major film franchises have been given new life through animated series that resonate with children around the world. Alongside this known IP, there are fresh and quirky properties creating legions of fans on their own, Gabby’s Dollhouse among them. Chloe Van den Berg, Senior Vice President, Head of Kids and Family Entertainment at NBCUniversal Global Distribution, shares insights into the boundary-pushing animation and storytelling found at the heart of these properties and more again.
KIDS TV: How has NBCUniversal’s children’s and family programming pushed the boundaries?
VAN DENBERG: DreamWorks is constantly pushing the boundaries of animation and storytelling through the breadth of its style and the constant innovation of its original content and its major franchises. The hugely popular Gabby’s Dollhouse takes the world by storm with its magical and lovable world of cat characters, and its hybrid live-action/animated style is a first for the studio. Kids love Gabby in both guises, and we can’t wait to share more of her cat-tastic adventures with audiences around the world.
With regard to the main franchises, Dragons and Madagascar come to mind. In Dragons: The Nine KingdomsDreamWorks has catapulted the franchise into modern times for the very first time, skillfully weaving adventure and heart-to-heart How to train your dragon with the modern hopes and dreams of a diverse cast of teenagers. In Madagascar: a bit wild, we’ve aged the four Dynamos from the movies to their youngest ages and opened up the vast world of New York to them to explore and pursue their even bigger dreams. The series is effortlessly inclusive through its portrayal of Deaf characters, both animal and human, as well as meaningful LGBTQ+ stories, sharing messages of acceptance and positivity throughout.
Peacock also innovates with its original children’s programming. Featuring a world of music, dance and play, Babble-Bop! is a one-of-a-kind musical jamboree, bringing a new take on classic nursery rhymes for the preschool ensemble. The series uses motion capture in animation to make the characters dance and move like real children.
Take note is a scripted drama/music show that is truly unlike anything we’ve seen before. The series features a loving family that sticks together and a young boy who can live out his dreams, showing audiences that dreams can come true.
Peacock and Sky Kids co-production The fabric is a series that combines live-action and CGI, which gives it a very different feel. Each themed episode shows the host taking viewers on a culinary and creative adventure – whether it’s doodling in a sketchbook or baking delicious treats in the kitchen – that educates children through play and inspires them to explore their imagination and creativity.
KIDS TV: What is driving growth and gains within this segment?
VAN DENBERG: There are so many different platforms to produce for, not just for linear or global and AVOD streamers, but also for new local streamers and platforms. What’s great is that everyone is looking for fresh and amazing content to help their platform stand out from the crowd and reach their key audience. Additionally, co-watching during (and out of) the pandemic has increased the motivation of our partners. Make “TV time” a time when the whole family can come together to watch something really strong, uplifting and entertaining.
KIDS TV: What are some of the new TV properties that continue to grow from the DreamWorks film franchises?
VAN DENBERG: Dragons: The Nine Kingdoms is new for ages 6-11 and co-viewing, and Dragons Rescue Riders: Sky Heroes is for preschoolers. [There are also] The Croods: family tree; Madagascar: a bit wild, who really succeeded with us; and of course, TrollsTopiafollowing Trolls World Tour.
KIDS TV: Tell us about some of the originating IP addresses.
VAN DENBERG: Gabby’s Dollhouse was a phenomenal success and global brand for NBCUniversal; he was treated with as much love and focus as, say, Jurassic World: Cretaceous Campwhich was a global brand based on known intellectual property.
KIDS TV: What are you looking for in a broadcast or streaming home for one of your favorite properties?
VAN DENBERG: Partnership. We want to work with our partners to make sure we support them [to] publicize shows to help provide ratings for their platforms. When our beloved franchises stay with our long-time partners, it’s incredibly important to us and to our partners. Children know where to find the shows and we know what our partners need to support them.