Chris Kratt, co-creator, co-producer and co-star of Wild Kratts and co-founder of The Kratt Brothers Company, talks to TV Kids about the animal-themed show and its many nonlinear extensions.
In 1993, Chris Kratt began producing children’s TV programming alongside his brother, Martin, with their launch of The Kratt Brothers Company. Perhaps one of the most successful series to come out of that venture is Wild Kratts, which the siblings—who are both zoologists by training—created and star in as animated versions of themselves. Produced with 9 Story Media Group, the show airs daily on PBS stations around the U.S. and can also be streamed on Amazon Prime. It is broadcast in more than 180 countries worldwide.
Wild Kratts first premiered in January 2011. “It’s amazing; it’s still going strong,” says Kratt. “It still bounces around in the top two of all PBS shows. It still has that really broad demographic of preschoolers who watch the show all the way up to early teens.”
The series, which includes a live-action segment at the start of each episode, looks on as the brothers’ cartoon characters explore wild animals from around the globe, with “creature power suits” that allow them to get up close and personal with different types of species.
“Kids love the power suits and the animals,” says Kratt. “They love to imagine what it would be like to have all these amazing animal abilities. We get letters and [when] we see kids at our live stage show and at different signings and things, they constantly have a list of animals that they want us to cover, animals that we haven’t done yet and that they want us to do, and cool creature power ideas.”
Young viewers are also enjoying the various ways they can connect with the Wild Kratts brand off-screen. Among the many nonlinear extensions complementing the series is the recently announced live stage show Wild Kratts LIVE 2.0—Activate Creature Power!, which is scheduled to start hitting venues across the U.S. in late September. The theatrical production will star both of the Kratt brothers.
There’s also a ton of licensed merchandise. “We have a partnership now with Old Navy for apparel that’s launching in September,” says Kratt. “We have more and more product rolling out in Whole Foods. Wicked Cool Toys keeps putting out new SKUs. And then in publishing, we’ve got a book line with Random House that has done very well, and we do several new titles each year with them.”
Other items include Topix Media Lab’s Wild Kratts-themed “mega-zine,” which is “a cross between a magazine and a book,” according to Kratt. “They go in grocery stores, drug stores and book stores across the nation; they’re on the shelves for about two to three months, and then the next one comes out,” he says.
Kratt also mentions a collaboration with the Minnesota Children’s Museum for traveling exhibits that will rotate around the U.S. at different children’s museums. Additional L&M extensions include apps, Halloween costumes, sleepwear and other apparel, puzzles and games.
Wild Kratts is currently in production on season six, which will comprise 20 half-hour episodes. There is a Halloween special due to debut later this year as part of the show’s fifth installment. “Each season, we do at least one or two hour-long specials, whether they’re tied to a holiday or not tied to a holiday,” says Kratt.
He adds: “We’re doing two more specials as part of season six. We’ve got some great locations; we’re doing some episodes in the Amazon rainforest—we haven’t really hit that region yet. Every season, we focus on new habitats around the world. We’re slowly but surely covering the globe, and we do a wide cross-section of all the different animal species—everything from invertebrates to mammals, and then from iconic animals that everybody’s heard of to animals that no one’s ever heard of before.”