Cookie Jar launching Hulu-like site

Jaroo will offer 50 television series for free

Jaroo comes to the Internet on Tuesday with the aim of being a sort of Hulu for kids.

Jaroo.com is from Cookie Jar Entertainment, the 5-year-old Canadian company that doubled its library last year when it purchased DIC Entertainment for $83 million.

Jaroo launches with 50 TV series and 500 episodes, though it is digitizing its library of 6,000 episodes to ensure fairly rapid growth, said Ken Locker, senior vp digital media.

Like Hulu, the Web site features TV shows that can be watched for free. Each 22-minute episode contains up to 90 seconds of commercials that cannot be skipped.

But unlike Hulu, Jaroo content, including the commercials, is aimed at kids ages 4-12.

Content comes exclusively from Cookie Jar's library, though discussions are under way with competitors who might add shows. And, like Hulu is a joint partnership consisting of NBC Universal, Fox, Disney and others, Jaroo is not averse to adding equity partners, as well.

"We're open to all discussions," Locker said.

The market for child-appropriate video on the Internet is huge and growing fast. Nielsen reported that 9.5% of the U.S. Internet population consists of children ages 11 and younger, and each is spending about 11 hours online per month, up from just seven hours a month four years ago.

"Kids are getting their own computers," Locker said. "Today, it's like having your own toothbrush. No one else uses it."

Parents, though, naturally are nervous about some of the raunchy videos kids can access easily at YouTube and even at Hulu, which features primarily TV shows geared for adults, or at least teenagers.

As Jaroo launches Tuesday, its shows including the animated 1980s series "Inspector Gadget," featuring the voice of Don Adams, along with "Johnny Test," "Madeline," "Cake" and "Ripley's Believe It or Not!"

Plus, Jaroo will be the U.S. home of "Mona the Vampire," a cartoon that has been popular in Canada and Great Britain but hasn't aired stateside.

Cookie Jar is a privately held company with 400 employees worldwide, including 45 in Burbank. With Jaroo, Cookie Jar becomes a programmer as well as a producer and distributor of children's shows.
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