Sprout is expanding its reach. NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s preschool network is rebranding to become Universal Kids, extending its audience to 2-11 year olds with content to include DreamWorks Animation Television series, unscripted entertainment, live action scripted originals, along with international hits.
Universal Kids goes live on September 9, kicking off with the launches of Emmy-winning series All Hail King Julien and DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk, based on the popular How To Train Your Dragon franchise. The line-up will be anchored by the debut of Top Chef Junior, produced by Magical Elves, the Emmy-winning team behind Bravo’s Top Chef. Top Chef Junior will launch in October, with 12 young chefs competing for the coveted junior title.
Sprout will continue as a preschool destination on the Universal Kids channel and will continue to add original programming to its slate. July will mark the launch of Kody Kapow, which joins top-rated series Floogals, Dot., Nina’s World, and Noddy Toyland Detective from DreamWorks Animation Television. Sprout will air fifteen hours of preschool programming daily from 3 AM-6 PM, with Universal Kids programmed from 6 PM for older kids and families.
“We see enormous potential to grow our audience in this space and create the Universal Kids platform for families to experience together,” said Berwick. “NBCUniversal is invested in the kids and family business, and the company believes in working together – we will benefit from promotion across our portfolio of networks and across the company through support that is unparalleled in the industry.”
“The launch of a channel that represents the world of NBCUniversal family brands with great TV content at its center makes tremendous sense for our business,” said Deirdre Brennan, General Manager, Universal Kids. “Just as children grow, Sprout is growing into Universal Kids – and we will reflect all that is universal about being a kid through connection, storytelling and entertainment. A place that reflects their life and passions.”
Also part of the Universal Kids programming mix are award-winning international hit series, including Nowhere Boys from NBCUniversal, a fantasy-adventure that follows four teenagers who get lost in a forest and discover – when they return home – that they are stuck in a world where they never existed; Little Lunch, a comedy series from the Australian Children’s Television Foundation that takes place during lunch, where kids tackle the big issues; and The Next Step, a single-camera tween drama from Boat Rocker Studios that follows the lives of a group of elite dancers.
In addition, Universal Kids will premiere Hank Zipzer from DHX Media. Based on the bestselling series of novels by Henry Winkler, the series focuses on the misadventures of Hank Zipzer, a 12 year old dyslexic schoolboy. The books are based on Winkler’s own childhood experiences.