Zodiak Kids, the children’s arm of Zodiak Rights, has snapped up rights to two out of three of Amazon’s debut kids shows, Tumble Leaf and Creative Galaxy.
Tumble Leaf follows an inquisitive blue fox called Fig, who embarks on adventures with his best friend, a caterpillar named Stick. Coming from creator Drew Hodges and California’s Bix Pix Entertainment, the preschool show subtly encourages science-based learning through “creativity and play”, says Zodiak Rights’ senior VP, global sales and coproductions Karen Vermeulen.
The stop-motion show launched on May 23 on Amazon Instant Prime in the US and UK, and will be of interest to both public service and commercial networks as it fills an increasing desire for programmes to have ‘STEM’ (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) elements.
“They’re looking for more and more STEM-driven shows, and because it’s playful, not didactic, it has a really broad appeal,” says Vermeulen.
Zodiak has one problem particular to distributing a Netflix or Amazon original – no ratings data. Vermeulen says online ratings sites as well as critical and general audience response have prompted Zodiak to back it as the firm’s major MIPJunior launch.
That other classic issue with VOD originals – binge-watching – is unlikely to be a problem, she adds, because of preschoolers’ tendencies to watch programmes over and over again.
“With 6-12s, there are questions in terms of how to manage transmission, number of runs and scheduling across Amazon’s release pattern, and [therefore] how a pay or free TV broadcaster can schedule it. With this being preschool I don’t see the same issues.”
With subscription streaming services relatively new to children’s programming, the potential for licensing and merchandising is likely to lie further down the road, but Vermeulen says Amazon – as a retailer, hardware producer and content creator – is uniquely placed to take advantage.
“It’s not going to happen overnight, but ultimately one would hope that Amazon’s ability to build deep connections with audiences will drive a shift in how traditional retailers see this content and how it can build quickly,” she says.
The show: Tumble Leaf
The producers: Amazon Studios, Bix Pix Entertainment
The distributor: Zodiak Rights
The broadcaster: Amazon Prime Instant Video (US, UK)
The concept: Fig the Fox and his best friend learn about adventure and play in science-themed preschooler