It’s barely been a month since for Maker Studios Chief Audience Officer and Jon Moonves announced a new kind of entertainment company for kids ages 2–11. And today, the company announced its first partnership with HobbyKidsTV, a family-YouTube channel with 2.4 million subscribers, a deal that has granted the brand equity in pocket.watch and includes a fast-tracked development deal for a new animated series and a book, to be led by pocket.watch’s Albie Hecht.
HobbyKidsTV has innovated within the genre, making its family of 5 the stars of toy reviews, video games, “surprise eggs” and a family vlog/reality format. It’s also built out a merch business.
“[HobbyKidsTV] is innovative in the format. They‘ve’ been innovative in playing with a lot of different formats and are an exciting channel to have as our first partner,” said Jon Moonves, Chief Strategy Officer.
And, pocket.watch is looking to do deals with roughly 15 partners like HobbyKidsTV — those that have sizeable audience, have built a real brand, bring diverse reach into the various cognitive/developmental stages within the 2–11 demographic, and mostly, those that have opportunity without resource to extend beyond YouTube.
“It’s the people that want to be a part of something bigger and are willing to commit that way,” said pocket.watch Founder and CEO Chris Williams, “And our commitment back to them is a high level of partnership, because we have so few, we get a lot of resources to put against a small number of partners.”
To entice the creators, pocket.watch is flipping the media model script by offering equity in its business to creators.
If you’re having a case of deja vu to how Maker Studios was structured in the early days, you’re not alone, and it was a model that Maker Studios struggled with in it’s first years as relationships with the “equity founders” slowly soured. Big Frame also structured a similar relationship with its creators including DeStorm Power and MysteryGuitarMan, who were billed as co-founders.
But Williams is bullish on the approach.
“Equity is a great aligner of interests, therefore when the bigger thing is doing well, the individualcreator can feel good about because htey share immensely in its upside,” added Williams. While the equity Williams speaks of is primarily focused on pocket.watch’s business, Williams is firm that the structure of the relationships are equitable for pocket.watch as well as it supports its creators in developing new IP, as well.
“Our goal is to take what we know how to do really well, take the incredible brand that a partner has built, and find out what else they want to do off YouTube,” Moonves told VideoInk. “When we are working togehter, there is a collaborative expectation anda model that benefits both partners, financially,” added Williams.
And, if these channels are able to bring enough baked-in scale, it makes the job of building a brand that is as precious for the next generation of youth, like Nickleodeon was for the 90’s child, that much easier. “Brand is very important to us so anything we create with a partner will likely be branded pocket.watch,” said Williams.
The company has plans to launch up to 5 of its own channels by the end of the year and to be deep in development on its own slate of projects, in addition to the partner-driven work. To service those goals, the company has already scaled to over 20 employees and growing, from its offices in Culver City.
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