Caroline Tyre, Genius Brands International’s senior VP of international distribution and head of the Genius Brands Network, talks to TV Kids about the expansion of the network of channels and looking for fresh content, as well as highlight brands from the company’s slate.
When Tyre, a veteran of the kids’ content sales and acquisitions business, joined Genius Brands International last June, a key part of her remit—in addition to overseeing content distribution—was to lead the continued expansion of the Genius Brands Network. A destination devoted to delivering “content with a purpose,” the Genius Brands Network, which is available in over 100 million homes in the U.S. and more than 220 million mobile devices, garnering some 3 million monthly impressions, is positioned to offer preschoolers, toddlers, kids and the whole family programming that can be enjoyed together. The Network is comprised of the Kid Genius Cartoon Channel, which targets 6- to 12-year-olds, and Baby Genius TV, which is for toddlers and preschoolers 0 to 5.
“Right now, our focus for the channels is the acquisition of tons of new kid-safe, parent-approved content that the whole family can watch,” Tyre comments of the programming plans for the Genius Brands Network.“We want to have programming for preschoolers, kids, tweens and content that parents can co-view with their kids and enjoy.”
The Genius Brands Network is currently available across a plethora of platforms, including Amazon, Comcast, DISH, Sling TV, Apple TV, Roku, Cox, Tubi and Xumo, and continues to grow, particularly in the AVOD market.
In fact, “AVOD expansion is top of mind,” says Tyre. “Because there are so many SVOD platforms launching and eating up parents’ dollars, we think that this is a great free alternative. Also, because there’s so much happening right now with unsafe content targeted at kids, we want to give parents the opportunity to feel that they have access to curated programming that’s safe for their kids.”
For parents wanting an ad-free experience for their young ones, there’s an SVOD option as well.
“Alternatively, we’re on a number of cable providers, where you don’t need an app,” Tyre adds. “This is a different offering from the other competitors in this space. It gives parents the opportunity to find it a bit easier.” This means no app downloads or install times necessary either.
“We’re going to be adding 10 to 15 more platforms,” says Tyre as she looks at the year ahead. “Some of the platforms that we’re working with, like Tubi for example, are expanding internationally to territories such as Australia, the U.K., Canada and Mexico. We’ve seen an uptick in AVOD revenue, so we’re planning to increase our international expansion as we are able to.”
Tyre also has her eye on ramping up content for the channels. “We are looking for a mass amount of content within different types of genres in the kids’ space, but also some marquee content that offers kids classic and evergreen brands that they’ll know and that are trusted by parents.”
Heading to Kidscreen Summit next week, the company is scouting for all types of content to bolster the channels’ slates. “We’re targeting everybody! We are looking at some traditional kids’ producers’ content, and we’re also looking at YouTube content that would be great for kids. We’re open to anything that’s fun, entertaining and value-driven. We’re not too worried about length, because we have such an opportunity with VOD to be able to schedule it as we’d like. We can create shorter bite-sized content.” Movies are another category of keen interest, as they provide an opportunity for on-demand family viewing.
Alongside growing the Genius Brands Network, Tyre is continuing to drive the global sales of Genius Brands International series. Rainbow Rangers is in its second season on Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. in the U.S. and on Nick Latin America, as well as numerous territories in Europe and Asia. “We’re rolling out the second season to all of the channels that have picked up season one,” she adds. “We’re closing those deals, and we are also [targeting] some bigger partnerships in key broadcast territories.”
The second season of Llama Llama, starring Jennifer Garner, launched on Netflix in November, and season one is becoming available this month for linear broadcast for a second window. “Llama Llama is available in 22 languages so we’re taking that out now to secure homes on free TV,” says Tyre. “That will give us an opportunity too in terms of rolling out consumer products.”
There’s a new character in Llama Llama that’s being applauded for taking a leap forward in disability representation. Audrey, new to the neighborhood, is limb different. She has a shortened arm and a prosthetic leg, but none of that slows her down. “We’ve had a great response from grandparents, parents and kids who are happy to see someone on-screen that’s like them,” says Tyre. “We’re really proud. It’s such a beautiful, evergreen series.”
Genius Brands International’s Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten, which comes from the mind of the late Stan Lee and stars the voice talent of Arnold Schwarzenegger, made a big splash at MIPJunior and MIPCOM, announcing China’s Alibaba Group as its co-production partner. Tyre and the team are currently working to put the pieces together for the U.S. broadcast plans. “It’s important for us to have a digital strategy as well as a more traditional model,” she explains. “We’re having those conversations now and looking at key international players. We’ve had a lot of initial interest, and are working hard to ensure we have the right partners in place to roll it out in the best way possible for the series.”
Looking at the rest of 2020, the company is exploring opportunities for new business development.“We’re always open to looking at third party content from a distribution perspective, as well as consumer products,” says Tyre. “We’re also looking at other models, such as podcasts or unique platforms to extend our brands. We want to be everywhere that kids are, with our own brands as well as the whole network.”