Technically, DreamWorks Animation has had a production branch for television since 1996, but the creators of Shrek, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon are now getting their own channel.
Check out the “Welcome to DreamWorksTV” video below:
Now, you’re probably wondering, “What about Nickelodeon?” For years, DreamWorks Animation and Nickelodeon have had a strong partnership, with Nick being the host for several DreamWorks-inspired hit shows like “Kung Fu Panda” and “Penguins of Madagascar.”
I was wondering that too, so I looked into what DreamWorks has been up to this past year leading up to the announcement. It turns out they actually hired a former Nickelodeon executive, Marjorie Cohn, as their Head of Television. Cohn was with Nick for 26 years, and she’s joining two other Nick employees who are shifting to DreamWorks: Mark Taylor and Peter Gal.
Of course, this was announced unceremoniously last August, but the plan remains the same. DreamWorks wants a channel where they can produce new series based on their hit movie franchises, including the following:
- Mr. Peabody & Sherman,
- How to Train Your Dragon,
- Kung Fu Panda,
- The Croods,
- Rise of the Guardians,
- Puss in Boots,
- Monsters vs. Aliens,
And hey, maybe that list will also include Antz…
The move makes plenty of sense as the market for computer-animated movies grows as competitive as ever, with Disney, Disney Pixar, Sony and Blue Sky all producing blockbuster animation movies around the same time each year. The market for television, however, has yet to be fully tapped in this author’s opinion.
Sure, you couldn’t get away with producing CGI cartoons as the bulk of your programming a decade ago, but as the technology grows more efficient, the costs of making a great show like Nickelodeon’s Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius becomes an easier sell to investors and studio execs.
I’m having a hard time feeling sorry for Nickelodeon, if you can believe it. While I believe Nick has made some smarter moves in the last 10 years compared to their biggest rivals Disney and Cartoon Network, they’ve still dropped the ball when it comes to ramping up the production of good animated shows. With the exception of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, Nickelodeon has pretty much played it safe.
At the same time, the above trailer for DreamWorksTV admittedly looks like the same format: a mixture of cheap live-action dribble blended in with animated productions. It’s a decent business model, but we’ll see how the ratio between cheap and valuable shows truly match up in the coming months.
Oh, and don’t worry about the new channel’s relationship with Netflix. They’ve already signed (allegedly) broad content deals that will undoubtedly spread the word. Yet another area Nickelodeon has been slacking in.
In the end, I’m excited about the prospect of animated television experiencing a revival, especially when it comes to computer animation, and it makes perfect sense for a studio with such a rich library of movie content to be one of the evangelists.
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