The logo for Pocketwatch.
It sounds like the setup for a Hollywood insider joke: Two former executives, one from Disney and one from Nickelodeon, walk into a pitch meeting.
Will it be a punchline, or the next big kid brand?
The truth of it is that Chris Williams, a former Disney and Maker Studios exec, and Albie Hecht, former head Nickelodeon, are not joking around. On Wednesday, Williams announced plans to launch Pocketwatch, a new kids media brand that will exist across platforms ranging from musical.ly to YouTube.
The goal is to be "the ultimate headquarters for kids in their vast entertainment universe," Williams said.
The brand will create, acquire, distribute and curate content for kids ages 2 through 11, and then present it across a variety of platforms.
"We want to do right by that audience and celebrate all the things kids love in a pretty unique way," Williams said.
Williams’ vision grabbed the attention of big Hollywood investors including United Talent Agency, CBS’ Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves, Oscar-winning producer Jon Landau, actor Robert Downey Jr. and Head of Digital Media at WME Chris Jacquemin. In all, Pocketwatch has raised $6 million in Series A funding.
It’s a smart bet to place, as kids programming continues to grow across all platforms.
Children are shifting to mobile devices for their video consumption at an accelerating rate, with 72 percent of kids’ daily viewing now taking place on streaming services such as YouTube and Netflix, a recent DHX/Ipsos survey found.
YouTube has also seen value in tapping into the younger demo.
Beginning this spring, the platform — which last year YouTube integrated with its subscription streaming service YouTube Red — is rolling out a slate of original programming. The platform also has its own kids app which it integrated with its streaming service YouTube Red.
Pocketwatch’s headquarters are in Culver City, where they have dedicated half of the 8,000 square foot space to a studio.
Williams said Pocketwatch intends to launch initially with five channels on YouTube. Then comes a musical.ly channel and a Facebook page. The plan is "populate it with 1,000 videos that we’ll produce in house."
Hecht is also working on a "premium slate of franchises," with four or five that are already in stages of development.
"We are hoping by end of year to bring those to potential partners like Netflix, YouTube Red, Hulu and Amazon," WIlliams said. The whole idea is that kids will "watch a lot of the content from a device they are going to pull out of their pockets."