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How WildBrain made it ‘YouTube Time’ for Teletubbies

Director of marketing and brands, Kate Smith, on launching the Tiddlytubbies animated series.

In today’s rapidly evolving media landscape, it’s no longer enough to be a top-rated TV show; brands need to consider their strategy for the multiple platforms that kids’ are now using to find their favourite characters and shows. Well-known brands with a strong global footprint, need to embrace new content and publishing tactics to meet children’s changing viewing habits and build their brands on new platforms.

At WildBrain, we’re industry leaders in the management and creation of preschool and children’s entertainment content for platforms such as YouTube, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. Our branded YouTube network is one of the largest of its kind with over 100 million subscribers, generating over 32 billion views in 2018. WildBrain Studios also specialises in the creation of new, original content for the network, such as animated and live-action shorts and stop-motion videos.

Teletubbies – a flagship property in the DHX Media stable – has always been one of the top performing brands on YouTube for WildBrain. With premium licensing partners and on-going support from global broadcasters, the brand was a natural choice to evolve with new created-for-YouTube content.

Arguably one of the most iconic and influential children’s series of the past 20 years, because of its unique design and sensitive educational storytelling, Teletubbies remains a safe and trusted introduction to screentime in many households. Since 2016, WildBrain has managed the brand on YouTube, building global visibility with a more regular publishing schedule and rolling out local language channels – 23 active Teletubbies channels now boast over three million subscribers worldwide. Within an average month on YouTube, direct searches for ‘Teletubbies’ result in 3.5m views. The brand’s success on YouTube is testament to its enduring appeal, reaching a new generation of children, some as young as six months. Searches for established brands like Teletubbies reign on YouTube because mums, dads and grandparents seek out trusted names on online platforms.

Using data to inform the content strategy

The Tiddlytubbies were introduced in 2015 as part of the new Teletubbies broadcast series. These eight adorable smaller characters brought younger, baby elements to the show, reinforcing the main characters’ nurturing and caring traits. Each Tiddlytubby has its own distinct personality, colour and antenna, just like the Teletubbies who look after them. When the Tiddlytubbies were introduced, we saw clear interest from audiences on YouTube, where short videos featuring the characters drew more engagement from fans.

At WildBrain, part of our strategy to support the Teletubbies brand is to engage and reach new audiences, so we started looking at the most popular episodes and character searches, along with platform-wide trends. We knew the content had to stay true to the show’s ethos, but we also knew there were key trends to consider for today’s preschoolers. Using data from Tubular Labs, which tracks all video content on YouTube daily, we identified that language-agnostic animated cartoons comrpised the largest genre for all kids content on YouTube.

Using these insights, our creative team at WildBrain Studios developed the idea for a Tiddlytubbies YouTube series, with colourful and simple slapstick animation and familiar Teletubbies sounds rather than spoken words.

Tiddlytubbies season one was a collection of 10 two-minute episodes that debuted on the Teletubbies YouTube channels in April 2018. Within ten months of launch, the series had achieved over 100 million views. The series continues to perform really well, with 70 million minutes watched in March 2019.

Next (BIG) steps for Teletubbies…

Teletubbies is a brand that extends well beyond the screen. The innovative and endearing master toy range from Character Options has maintained its position as a top 10 pre-school toy brand in the UK, and now includes popular Tiddlytubbies plush including clips-on, 8” gigglers and crawling Shuffle ‘n’ Giggles.

For 2019 and 2020, we are already in production with a series of new stop-motion videos featuring the toy range, along with season two and three of Tiddlytubbies. Under our marketing theme ‘Grow with Teletubbies’ we will also be releasing educational shorts filmed on set, that support learning simple skills, such as counting and making animal sounds. The full range of Teletubbies content is also available direct to consumers via a new dedicated Teletubbies app on ROKU, which is now live in the US and Canada.

Making content that kids love is central to what we do at WildBrain. This is just the start of what we believe are many opportunities to drive the further commercial and educational success of the Teletubbies brand and support its licensing partners.

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