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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Pocket.watch Caps Year Of Explosive Growth By Closing $15M Series B Investment Round With Viacom Taking Lead [Updated]

Pocket.watch Caps Year Of Explosive Growth By Closing $15M Series B Investment Round With Viacom Taking Lead


As part of a strategic investment, pocket.watch and Viacom will partner to develop and produce long and short form content, extend pocket.watch's advertising reach and capabilities and identify future kid creators and talent for digital and tv


Sarah Levy, COO of Viacom Media Networks, to join pocket.watch's Board



LOS ANGELES, July 18, 2018 -- Pocket.watch, the kids media brand that celebrates the new digital stars, franchises and formats that kids love today, announced the close of its $15M Series B, led by Viacom, with participation from new and existing investors including Greycroft's Tracker fund and UTA Ventures.

In addition to Viacom's strategic investment, pocket.watch has entered into a wide-ranging commercial agreement with the media company encompassing content, advertising and talent.

Pocket.watch and Viacom have already engaged in a variety of content initiatives together including developing Skoogle, the kids sketch comedy show created by and starring Nickelodeon alum Kenan Thompson (All That, Kenan & Kel, Good Burger), for Nickelodeon while Paramount Players has purchased a pitch from pocket.watch for a feature film currently known as The Unboxing Movie. In connection with the agreement, the companies have further formalized a process for collaborative development and expect to work together on a number of content projects over the coming year.

Albie Hecht, who was the original executive behind many of Nickelodeon's iconic series in the '90s, including Nick's classic kids sketch show All That, in which Thompson rose to fame, will serve as Executive Producer with the Nickelodeon alum. Co-producers Josh Server, who also starred on All That, and Mason Gordon will executive produce. In a statement, the inspiration for the show’s format was described as “the ‘never too young’ entrepreneurial spirit that is encouraging kids everywhere to start their own businesses at any age. And have a blast doing it!”

“Kenan Thompson is a comedic genius,” said Hecht in a statement. “At Nickelodeon, I witnessed first-hand Kenan and his fellow cast members’ ability to turn everyday scenarios into hilarious adventures. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to once again reteam with Kenan and bring premium sketch comedy to a new generation of fans.”

Skoogle will feature Thompson as the voice of the titular Skoogle, an Siri/Alexa-like digital assistant for kids who has been created to help with their daily problems. Along with his cast of kid entrepreneur inventors, Skoogle will satirize everything from service apps to streaming entertainment to social media. The series marks the first major series production for pocket.watch.


Ryan ToysReview

Viacom will also significantly expand pocket.watch's ad sales reach. Viacom will bring the best from both companies together through this exclusive partnership by packaging pocket.watch branded video inventory with Nickelodeon inventory to create unparalleled advertising reach across digital and traditional platforms.

The companies are also working on a variety of talent initiatives including jointly identifying up and coming talent and creators where the companies are aligned and can bring their unique expertise and resources together for 360 degree talent partnerships. Pocket.watch creator partners will also be invited to a variety of Viacom events including the Kids' Choice Awards.

Sarah Levy, COO of Viacom Media Networks, will join pocket.watch's Founder and CEO, Chris M. Williams, on the pocket.watch Board with a third Board member to be named by Williams in the coming weeks.

"We started pocket.watch with the understanding that kids today consume entertainment in entirely new ways and in order to reach them, brands have to go to where they are and celebrate the things they love," said Chris M. Williams, CEO of pocket.watch. "In just a little over a year since pocket.watch's launch, we've seen our business grow exponentially and we are thrilled that a legendary media company like Viacom shares our enthusiasm and chose to lead our Series B and partner with us to help bring our new and powerful approach to audiences around the world."

The latest investment in pocket.watch caps off an explosive year of growth for the kids media brand. Since launching in March 2017, pocket.watch has amassed a number of marquee television, film, apparel, toy, game and book deals that are poised to bring the pocket.watch brand to consumers globally while growing their original IP and creator partner brands including Ryan ToysReview, the largest YouTube channel based in the U.S. and one of Time Magazine's 25 most influential people on the internet, EvanTube, JillianTube, HobbyKidsTV and CaptainSparklez into full-scale franchises on par with the biggest media properties in the children's entertainment universe.

Starting next month, pocket.watch will begin to rollout long-form content featuring their original IP and creator partner brands to top streaming networks, will introduce an extensive line of toys and apparel featuring one of their most well-known creator partners to major retailers nationwide, and will debut Watch this Book!, the first in a series of books released under the pocket.watch Books imprint through Simon Spotlight, a division of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

Sarah Levy, COO of Viacom Media Networks, said, "Pocket.watch's unique and comprehensive approach to celebrating the new digital stars of today makes them an outstanding partner for Nickelodeon and our unmatched connections with kids around the world through video, digital and real-world events. It's great to be in business with them and we are excited to be expanding our relationship with such an innovative new media brand."

Pocket.watch has raised $21MM since launching in March 2017 and currently boasts over one billion monthly views across twenty YouTube channels, with a combined subscriber base of over 34 Million.

For more information about pocket.watch, please visit: http://pocket.watch.

About pocket.watch

Pocket.watch is the virtual entertainment headquarters for kids. It is a new media brand that lives everywhere they live and celebrates the new digital stars, franchises and formats that they love today. The company boasts a growing portfolio of franchises that includes some of the largest kids and family YouTube brands in the world alongside original characters and talent that the company has extended into premium series, retail merchandise and books. Pocket.watch was founded in March 2017 by Chris M. Williams and is located in Culver City, CA where it maintains an office and studio. The management team is made up of studio veterans and visionaries from traditional and digital entertainment including former Nickelodeon Entertainment president Albie Hecht (GUTS, Kids' Choice Awards), Jon Moonves and David B. Williams. Investors include Viacom, Greycroft, Third Wave Digital and United Talent Agency (UTA), as well as notable strategic angels including Les Moonves, Robert Downey Jr. (Team Downey) and Jon Landau.

SOURCE pocket.watch

Related Links
http://pocket.watch

Update (7/19): Williams discussed pocket.watch’s new funding via email with L.A. Biz, including how his company will use the money, how Viacom evolved into an investor, and what their strategic partnership will entail.

How did Viacom evolve as a content collaborator to an investor?

We’ve been working closely with Viacom on a couple of projects, and as we began our roadshow for our Series B investment it was pretty obvious to us that we should bring the opportunity to potential strategic investors that we were already working with. Viacom has been a great partner, and we knew there were a lot of additional areas across content, advertising and talent that we could explore extending our partnership to. After many meetings with various executives there, it also became clear that there was a really good chemistry amongst our top teams, making it a really easy decision to move forward for both companies.

Why is pocket.watch a good investment for Viacom — how does the network fit into the media conglomerate?

Pocket.watch is dedicated to celebrating the new digital stars, franchises and formats that kids love today. Viacom believes in our mission and embraces innovation. Brands like Nickelodeon will be able marry their existing strengths with the growing digital force of pocket.watch, resulting in growth for both companies. From our perspective, the investment from Viacom allows pocket.watch to collaborate and create on a whole other level — one that will quickly secure our goal to be the entertainment headquarters kids have been waiting for.

Can you tell me about any future Viacom collaborations on the content side?

We’re already working on developing “Skoogle,” a new sketch comedy show for kids starring and created by the amazing Kenan Thompson, for Nickelodeon. Paramount Players has bought a pitch from us currently called “The Unboxing Movie,” which we are developing as a feature film.

As we continue to develop long-form content with Viacom, we’ll also focus on short-form content development, since Viacom is very focused on building out their digital channels as well. Across all forms of content, we intend to stay true to our brand and focus heavily on celebrating the new digital stars, franchises and formats that kids love today, so it is likely you will see content coming from this partnership that features our existing YouTube creator partners and some new ones too.

How about the talent initiatives — what will those look like?

We firmly believe that we can work together to find new digital talent and that by bringing both our respective resources and expertise together we can grow that talent in extraordinary ways. Nickelodeon has already seen success with Jojo Siwa, and by working with us at the earliest stages of talent discovery, they believe it increases their chances of finding and nurturing the next one.

How will pocket.watch use the new funding?

We plan to expand what we’ve already been doing including growing our advertising and licensing and merchandising businesses while investing heavily in the creation of new franchise IP and content launching on a variety of platforms. We also plan to develop direct-to-consumer initiatives as we believe it is an incredibly important part of the mix for growing our business in the future.

--Ends--

Also, via Variety:

Viacom Leads $15 Million Round in Pocket.watch, Sets Content and Ad Pact With Startup

Viacom is getting into business with Pocket.watch, leading a $15 million Series B funding round in the kids’ entertainment startup and the two companies setting a commercial partnership for content and advertising.

Under their commercial agreement, Viacom and Pocket.watch will develop and produce long- and short-form content and identify future kid creators and talent for digital and TV. In addition, Viacom will become the exclusive third-party agent for ad sales on Pocket.watch’s YouTube and creator footprint, which the media plans to package Nickelodeon inventory.

Pocket.watch and Viacom have already engaged in a variety of content initiatives together including developing “Skoogle,” the sketch-comedy show created by and starring Keenan Thompson for Nickelodeon, while Paramount Players (headed by Brian Robbins) has bought a pitch from Pocket.watch for a feature film currently titled “The Unboxing Movie.”

“It became clear there were areas of alignment between the two companies,” said founder and CEO Chris M. Williams [...]. “There’s strong opportunity to bring together our creators with the Viacom brands.” Pocket.watch creator partners will also be invited to a variety of Viacom events including the Kids Choice Awards.

Launched in March 2017, Pocket.watch has focused on enlisted kid-and-family-oriented YouTube creators, including Ryan ToysReview, EvanTubeHD, CaptainSparklez and HobbyKidsTV. The 20 YouTube channels that are part of Pocket.watch’s network currently deliver over 1 billion monthly views with a combined subscriber base of over 34 million.

Pocket.watch will use the new capital to extend licensing and merchandising, engage in brand deals with original intellectual property, and develop new programming franchises, Williams said.

This summer, the company will launch several consumer-facing initiatives, including in retail and with a subscription VOD partner. This fall, Pocket.watch will debut its first book,”Watch This Book!,” featuring Ryan ToysReview, HobbyKidsTV, JillianTubeHD, and EvanTubeHD. It’s the first in a series of books released under the Pocket.watch Books imprint through Simon Spotlight, a division of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

“Basically we’ve been setting up chess pieces for our consumer brand launch,” Williams said.

With the latest funding, Pocket.watch has raised $21 million to date. The latest round included participation from existing investor UTA Ventures and Greycroft’s Tracker fund, a new investor. Other backers include Third Wave Digital, CBS CEO Les Moonves, Robert Downey Jr. (through Team Downey) and producer Jon Landau. Williams declined to disclose Pocket.watch’s valuation with the funding, but said it was an up round (meaning the valuation increased).

Sarah Levy, COO of Viacom Media Networks, will join the Pocket.watch board alongside Williams. (In the next few weeks, Williams says he plans to name a third board member.)

“Pocket.watch’s unique and comprehensive approach to celebrating the new digital stars of today makes them an outstanding partner for Nickelodeon and our unmatched connections with kids around the world through video, digital and real-world events,” Levy said in a statement.

Pocket.watch’s executive team comprises several entertainment-biz veterans, including Williams (formerly with Maker Studios and Disney Online Originals; Albie Hecht, ex-head of Nickelodeon; entertainment lawyer Jon Moonves; and David B. Williams, formerly with Endemol Beyond USA and Maker.

Pocket.watch currently has about 40 full-time employees, based in Culver City, Calif. The company’s 8,000-square-foot headquarters includes studio space and offices.

--Ends--

Also, from TV[R]EV:

[...]

In all, Pocket.watch’s 20 partner channels have more than 1 billion monthly views from a subscriber base of 34 million, the company said. That family of partner channels could partner nicely with what Nickelodeon is now doing online.

Nickelodeon is growing online primarily through YouTube, according to social video intelligence company Tubular Labs. Nickelodeon has added 5 million to 7 million views per month over the last few months, with 120 million views for June. In the past 90 days, 10 different videos across YouTube and Facebook have a V30 score (views in the past month) of at least 1 million. Nickelodeon’s most popular online video had 3.5 million views over that timeframe.

[...]

Pocket.watch’s executives and other investors include several with connections to Viacom or CBS, the other major media company connected to the Redstone family.

The most notable tie is Chief Content Officer Albie Hecht, who formerly headed Nickelodeon Entertainment and HLN, and founded Spike TV.

Jon Moonves, a prominent entertainment attorney, is Pocket.watch’s chief strategy officer. His brother, CBS CEO and Chairman Les Moonves, was an early investor, as is seemingly omnipresent Los Angeles media investor Allen DeBevoise (DanceOn, Jukin Media, IRIS.TV, Pluto.TV, Machinima, Tubular Labs, Tastemade).

Those connections will further increase under the deal, with Viacom Media Networks COO Sarah Levy joining the Pocket.watch board.

Other execs include CEO Chris Williams, an early Yahoo employee and Chief Audience Officer at Maker Studios who later headed Disney’s online channels after it bought Maker, and David B. Williams, former chief content and tech strategist at Endemol Beyond USA.

Pocket.watch launched in March of 2017, backed by a $6 million round led by DeBevoise’s Third Wave Digital. Other initial investors included UTA Ventures, producer Jon Landau, actor Robert Downey Jr., and WME partner and head of digital media Chris Jacquemin.

--Ends--

More Nick: Nickelodeon and Paramount to Bring 'Rugrats' Back with an All-New TV Series and Movie!!

Originally published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018.

Additional sources: PR Newswire, Wikipedia, Deadline.
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