The Digital Domination of DreamWorksTV

Birk Rawlings, the head of DreamWorksTV, speaks with TV Kids about the YouTube destination, which features original live-action and animated short-form content.

Though it launched just two years ago, DreamWorksTV has already proven itself as a major player in the kids’ and family entertainment space. The YouTube destination has surpassed 1.7 million subscribers—more than traditional kids’ brands like Nickelodeon, Disney or Cartoon Network, which have been around much longer.

“It’s been an incredibly exciting run,” says Birk Rawlings, the head of DreamWorksTV. “We planned on having success, but I never expected this to grow as quickly as it has.”

Rawlings explains that there are many other entertainment brands on YouTube, but “there are not very many that are catering to kids and there aren’t very many that are doing everything that we’re doing.” He says, “We produce a lot of original content. We deliver new original episodes, anywhere from one to four, every single day, 365 days a year. We produce content that’s digital-native, that’s specifically made for each platform we’re on and for this audience.”

While there are millions of kids consuming content on YouTube, a lot of them are watching video that wasn’t specifically designed with youngsters in mind, Rawlings says. “Our delivery is something that’s just for them, and that’s why it’s connected [with audiences] in a really meaningful way. Beyond that, it’s about the variety of content that we’ve been able to produce—everything from live action to sketch and reality shows, game shows to original animation and custom character animation featuring DreamWorks’s biggest stars. That breadth gives us the ability to connect to specific interests, so we’re not stuck in a pattern of only making one show or two shows a year that have to be everyone’s favorite.”***Image***

DreamWorksTV has produced 100 original series for its YouTube and go90 channels. Among its most popular series, Life Hacks for Kids received 3.1 million views in just one week. Other notable hits include Junk Drawer Magic and Songs That StickLife Hacks and Junk Drawer also include interactive elements, with activities that kids themselves can bring to life.

“When we set out, part of our core strategy was to use an alternative form of development to the traditional model,” says Rawlings. “When I was developing movies for Disney or television shows for Nickelodeon, [the strategy was to] invest heavily in a couple of bets. You’d spend a lot of time fine-tuning everything to make sure that what you put out is the best it could possibly be. We’re essentially using the digital audience as our ‘executives’—we’re letting kids decide which of the things we do more of. We put a bunch of things in front of them and lean in to what works, continue experimentation on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and invest in the things they connect to. So far, it’s working.”

The success of DreamWorksTV is another testament to kids’ changing media-consumption habits, as many look to digital as a go-to for their entertainment and consider on-demand their primary preference. Looking ahead, Rawlings is keen to continue on the path of growing DreamWorksTV’s audience and finding new hits from these digital platforms. “We’re also in the process of pivoting and taking some of our best characters and formats and bringing them out to traditional outlets, which has always been part of the plan and model,” he says. “Ultimately, we want to continue to try to be as flexible and fleet of foot as possible so that we don’t get stuck in what worked last year.”