Netflix Wants More ‘CoComelon,’ Its Most Popular Show for Kids

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Netflix is turning to YouTube for help finding the next great TV franchise for kids. 

The streaming service has ordered three seasons of a new children’s TV show called “CoComelon Lane,” an offshoot of the popular YouTube channel featuring nursery rhymes. The first season of the new show will debut in 2023, and each season will consist of 24 episodes that are seven minutes in length.

The show is part of a larger partnership between Netflix and Moonbug Entertainment, which owns CoComelon, as well as the YouTube properties Blippi and Little Baby Bum. Netflix also has ordered 48 episodes of a Little Baby Bum show, which is expected to debut in 2023.

Improving its slate of programming for kids is a huge priority at Netflix, which faces a growing challenge online from Disney, as well as from Amazon, Paramount+ and HBO Max. About 60% of the Netflix’s 208 million users watch kids and family content, according to Heather Tilert, director of original animation for preschoolers at Netflix.

For much of its history, Netflix avoided posting videos to YouTube, which is its biggest competitor for attention in online video. But in recent years, Netflix has recognized the site’s potential as both a way to market its shows and as a source of potential new franchises.

“We wanna be the first-choice destination for kids and families all over the world,” Tilert said.

The company is taking other steps to beef up its children’s content, including an extension of its deal with Comcast Corp.’s Universal division. Netflix said Tuesday that it has a multiyear, exclusive licensing agreement that will let it air Universal’s animated feature films in the U.S. — following a four-month widow when the movies appear on Comcast’s Peacock service.

The expanded deal now includes DreamWorks Animation and will bring films such as “The Bad Guys” and “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish” to Netflix next year.

But it’s hard to overstate the popularity of CoComelon, which generates more than 2 billion views a month on YouTube. Former advertising executive Jay Jeon created the channel to entertain his child and sold it to Moonbug in 2020. The company has since licensed CoComelon rights to the toy manufacturer Jazwares.

“CoComelon” is already a hit show on Netflix. Compilations of the nursery-rhyme seasons have ranked among the top 10 shows on Netflix in 29 countries. “CoComelon” has been one of the 10 most popular shows in one country or another for all but a handful of days this year, according to Flix Patrol.

The enduring popularity of the show contrasts with the performance of successful programming for adults on the service. Most of Netflix’s biggest hits are popular for a few weeks before ceding the spotlight to the next big thing.

“Bridgerton” was the most popular show on Netflix to start the year, before being eclipsed by “Lupin,” which after two weeks was surpassed by a documentary series. That’s what happens when a streaming service commissions more than 1,000 pieces of original programing a year and releases multiple new titles every week. But kids typically don’t move onto the next new show as hastily as adults, and Netflix is looking to reach the level of success with original kids’ shows that it has enjoyed in other genres, such as dramas, stand-up specials, documentaries and romantic comedies. 

“CoComelon Lane” will differ from the existing CoComelon videos by offering more than brief nursery rhymes. Each episode will have a narrative arc. The main character, JJ, will talk directly to the audience and help viewers navigate experiences like getting a haircut for the first time. Each episode will still feature original music, and Netflix will assemble compilations of the songs for special episodes that will begin streaming next year. 

At the same time, Netflix has also ordered four, hour-long nursery rhyme compilations.

Rene Rechtman, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Moonbug, praised Netflix’s willingness to work with a YouTube property — a strategy that many traditional media companies haven’t yet embraced.

“Netflix is such an important platform for us to express more complex storytelling,” Rechtman said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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