8:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'StoryBots' Creators to Expand Children's Franchise Under Netflix Overall Deal
Netflix is investing in animated children's series StoryBots.
The streamer has acquired the property from creators and producers JibJab Bros. Studios and inked co-creators (and brothers) Evan and Gregg Spiridellis to an overall deal to expand the franchise.
StoryBots, an Emmy- and Peabody-winning children's program, started as an online property and amassed more than 1 billion views on YouTube. Netflix teamed with the Spiridellises' JibJab banner for the award-winning animated series Ask the StoryBots in 2016.
With the new deal, Netflix will now own the StoryBots franchise and has brought in the Spiridellises to build upon its well-known characters with a commitment to expand its educational content. Ask the StoryBots is available in 22 languages and 190 countries.
"Ask the StoryBots has a proven track record of synthesizing complex subjects into bite-sized lessons that are funny and entertaining for young kids and satisfying for parents," said Netflix vp original animation Melissa Cobb. "We are thrilled to welcome Gregg and Evan into the Netflix family and look forward to building out the wonderful and whimsical StoryBots world, finding new ways to delight our growing member base of families around the world."
Season three of Ask the StoryBots launches in the fall. The larger goal is to expand to series and shortform specials while also exploring new areas. The brothers will engage creative teams, subject-matter experts and educational consultants to ensure that the StoryBots educational content is relevant to Netflix's global audience.
The acquisition, the first of its kind for Netflix, arrives as the streamer continues to make a push to be the ultimate destination for all areas of programming — preschool, YA, premium scripted, stand-up specials, etc. Netflix also has other plans for educational programming for preschoolers that have not yet been announced.
The Spiridellises founded JibJab Media in 1999. The company, perhaps best known for personalized interactive videos like Elf Yourself, launched StoryBots online in 2012. The franchise has garnered 17 Emmy nominations, five wins and guest appearances by the likes of Snoop Dogg, Ed Norton and Whoopi Goldberg, among others.