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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

YouTube channel leads kids to new characters

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LOS ANGELES -- When AwesomenessTV launched as a YouTube channel two years ago, it was a bet by veteran TV and movie producer Brian Robbins on the ability of teen and tween audiences to find videos they love to watch online.

On Monday, Robbins kicks off DreamWorks TV, another YouTube channel that represents one of the first attempts by Hollywood to mesh the polished look of movies with the chaos of content on the Internet.

The channel is aimed at six- to 11-year-olds and will have a mix of videos featuring characters familiar to DreamWorks Animation audiences -- like Shrek and Po from Kung Fu Panda -- alongside those who haven't yet made it big.

The hope is that kids who come to watch their favourite characters will get interested in new ones that might one day become just as valuable.

AwesomenessTV was one of the startup channels that received a small piece of the $100 million in seed funding that YouTube doled out to some 100 creators two years ago to develop original content.

Today, it is one of the few to have amassed an audience large enough to attract the attention of a major studio. DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. bought AwesomenessTV in May 2013 for what could exceed $100 million if the channel operator continues to hit earnings targets.

The online platform will be a relatively inexpensive way to develop hits and to forget failures.

Birk Rawlings, head of animation at DreamWorks TV, said the network will debut more than a dozen new shows in the first few weeks, including Jimmy Blue Shorts and Fifi Cat Therapist. One live-action show will re-imagine the comic book character Richie Rich, one of the hundreds of characters DreamWorks acquired when it bought Classic Media in June 2012.

Executives will tweak the lineup based on audience feedback in the form of "likes," repeat viewings and the amount of time people stick around.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 17, 2014 D3

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