NBCUniversal is planning to change Sprout, one of the company’s smaller cable properties, into a dedicated children’s network under the title Universal Kids. According to Deirdre Brennan, who will be general manager of the new project, NBCUniversal wishes to create what she dubbed an “umbrella brand” to handle all their family-related shows in one place. These shows are to include TV cartoons made by DreamWorks Animation, which is also owned by Universal, along with a variety of reality shows, dedicated to a younger audience.

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Sprout to grow up into Universal Kids, aimed at older kids too

Currently, Sprout only offers shows aimed at preschool kids, but according to Brennan, the new Universal Kids will give a wider offering, aiming at children from two through to eleven years of age. One of the new kids’ network’s first offerings will be “Top Chef Junior,” a younger version of the current cooking show on Bravo. Brennan said 11-year-olds are more sophisticated these days and want more than the same old boring sitcoms, saying reality programming is the way to go in the children’s television market. Shows will feature pets, food, dancing and even news.

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Universal Kids will also air popular cartoon reruns

Universal Kids will also air reruns of the DreamWorks Animation cartoons, including “All Hail King Julien,” a spinoff from the popular “Madagascar” movie franchise. DreamWorks has also been involved in making cartoons for the streaming entertainment business Netflix, and will reportedly continue to do so.

A richer entertainment experience – for the children

The New York Times quotes Bonnie Hammer, who chairs NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, as saying in an email that they are connecting their businesses like they have never done before.

Hammer said their goal is to create a “richer entertainment experience” for all viewers.

As reported by B&C, this is probably a good move for Sprout, which is reportedly receiving low ratings and viewings at present and as it stood, was not expected to survive. The new Universal Kids network is also possibly aimed at taking advantage of the current children’s TV wars, where some stalwart children’s TV networks have recently lost their previously good ratings.

While reportedly there is no guarantee Universal Kids will be a successful project, children’s TV generates billions of dollars each year in subscriber fees, advertising revenue, and toy sales, so it is definitely worth a try.

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