Friday, April 19, 2019

Nickelodeon to Premiere 'Ryan’s Mystery Playdate' on Friday, April 19, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. (ET/PT)

Original Nickelodeon USA Press Release:


Live-Action Series Created and Produced by

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Courtesy of Nickelodeon

NEW YORK–March 27, 2019–Nickelodeon will unbox its playful new preschool series Ryan’s Mystery Playdate, starring seven-year-old YouTube superstar Ryan of Ryan ToysReview, on Friday, April 19, at 12:30 p.m. (ET/PT). Created and produced by, the new studio creating global franchises from the YouTube stars and characters loved by Generation Alpha, the live-action series (20 episodes) follows Ryan as he tackles a series of imaginative, physical challenges and solves mystery box puzzles to reveal the identity of his playdate. A brand-new episode of Ryan’s Mystery Playdate will also premiere Saturday, April 20, at 12:30 p.m. (ET/PT), before the series moves to its regular timeslot on Fridays at 12:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.

In Ryan’s Mystery Playdate, Ryan, his parents and animated friends Gus the Gummy Gator and Combo Panda, work together to complete unique challenges and unlock mystery boxes that contain hints to help him discover who his mystery playdate is. The series encourages physical play, models positive family relationships and features a creative problem-solving curriculum.

Courtesy of Nickelodeon

In the series premiere, “Ryan’s Kickin’ Playdate/Ryan’s Viral Playdate,” Ryan is put to the test with challenges ranging from stacking pancakes to catching slimy frogs before meeting his highly skilled playdate. Then, Ryan must deflate a room full of whoopee cushions to reveal the identity of his internet superstar playdate.

Following the linear series premiere of Ryan’s Mystery Playdate, and the Nick Jr. App will feature original short-form content and full-length episodes. Episodes will also be available on Nick Jr. On Demand and DTO.

Courtesy of Nickelodeon

Beginning Friday, April 19, through Sunday, April 21, Nickelodeon will launch the Ryan’s Mystery Playdate Sweepstakes. Each episode of Ryan’s Mystery Playdate will feature a mystery word that parents can enter on, giving kids a chance to win a playdate with Ryan.

Since its inception in 2015, Ryan ToysReview has grown to become one of the world’s largest YouTube channels with videos that feature Ryan and his family playing with toys for kids. The channel, along with other channels featuring Ryan and his friends, averages over one billion views monthly and currently has over 18 million subscribers. In addition to videos of Ryan playing with toys, Ryan ToysReview also features fun and easy science experiments, educational content, and videos that document daily life for the family of five, which includes Ryan’s younger twin sisters. Ryan’s World, a companion consumer products line developed by, featuring Ryan and the universe of characters created by Ryan and his parents, launched nationwide last year.

Courtesy of Nickelodeon is the new studio that specializes in entertaining and inspiring kids and families through digital-first content and sparking their imaginations with lifestyle products ranging from toys to toothbrushes. The company inspires kids to seamlessly move between screen time and playtime and 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, consumer products, books, games, live events and more. 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 Albie Hecht, Stone Newman, 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 Robert Downey Jr. (Team Downey) and Jon Landau.

Production of Ryan’s Mystery Playdate for Nickelodeon is overseen by Cathy Galeota, Senior Vice President, Preschool Content.

Nickelodeon, now in its 39th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 90 million households and has been the number-one-rated kids’ basic cable network for 22 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB).

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Also, from Kidscreen:

Inside Ryan ToysReview’s linear TV strategy

Taking the child star from YouTube to Nickelodeon was no easy feat, but CCO Albie Hecht breaks down how the prodco pulled it off.

By Ryan Tuchow

Nickelodeon and are bringing seven-year-old YouTube superstar Ryan, from Ryan ToysReview (18 million subscribers), to a slightly bigger screen with their new linear live-action series Ryan’s Mystery Playdate.

Premiering tomorrow, the 20 x half-hour series stars the social media star, his family and a cast of animated characters who work together on creative challenges to discover the identity of his special playdate guest star. The challenges range from stacking pancakes to catching slimy frogs and deflating a room full of whoopee cushions, while guest stars could be anyone from fellow social media celebs to professional athletes.

Since his YouTube channel launched in 2015, it has become one of the platform’s most popular channels, and the child star has become a giant in the kids entertainment industry. The linear series is’s latest project in a partnership with Ryan’s family, which began in 2017 when they first teamed up to create a multiplatform franchise development plan. Today, the brand has expanded into publishing, licensing, original programming and merchandising. turned the YouTube channel into a massive franchise and created a new book imprint called Watch This Book! with Simon & Schuster; launched a toy and apparel line named Ryan’s World; signed deals with a myriad of licensing partners; and kicked off a 75-location experiential tour at Walmart locations across the US.

The only thing the young YouTuber hasn’t tackled is linear—until now. But the transition from YouTube to TV was not a difficult one, says CCO Albie Hecht, who recently shared some insights with Kidscreen about the challenges behind production, balancing the feel of his YouTube channel with a network TV production, and why Nickelodeon was the right partner for this series.

“His whole family has a great dynamic. The father is such a comedic character, and his mother holds it all together, explaining challenges and what’s going on. It’s just like how they are on the YouTube channel,” says Hecht. “And then there’s Ryan. He has the kind of face we can cut to when we’re filming because when he laughs, everyone laughs.”

At the core, Hecht says the idea for Mystery Playdate comes down to the YouTuber’s infectious energy—he just comes across as everyone’s best friend.

The idea for the show arose after the digital media company ran a contest where kids had a chance to win a playdate with the mini vlogger. When brought the idea to Nickelodeon, the kidcaster didn’t need much convincing. Nickelodeon (known for having worked with digital stars in the past) was quick to give him his own show, Hecht says, after seeing the YouTube star’s massive audience and appeal.

“Nickelodeon was a natural partner for this. Not only had it pioneered live-action Nick Jr. shows like Blues Clues, it also had begun to understand the power of social media stars with JoJo Siwa,” says Hecht.

After the premiere, Nick will bring back the original promotion and give kids an opportunity to have a playdate with Ryan. A new episode of the show will also bow on Saturday, April 20 before moving to its regular time slot on Fridays. Short-form content including behind-the-scenes videos and additional footage, as well as full-length episodes, will be added to and the Nick Jr. app after it debuts.

Convincing Nick to air the show may have been easy, but producing it wasn’t. One of the main challenges was in trying to stay true to the original YouTube channel‘s brand, says Hecht, while also needing to show audiences that it offers something they can’t get by just going online.

The show’s production kept a crew of 100 people busy for six months. Ryan’s videos are known for a roving camera, close-ups as he’s unboxing gifts, animated characters, colorful costumes and some special effects. Now, all of the intimate action that’s captured by one camera in a family’s living room has to be balanced against huge sets and technology. By keeping the family dynamic at the center of the action, though, Hecht says the team was able to bridge those personal moments with the more elaborate production. maintained the authentic and unscripted nature of the YouTube channel by not having any writers, instead hiring five challenge producers led by EP Jeff Sutphen (Figure It Out). The producers decided what each challenge would be and made sure it was safe and entertaining for those on set. Dialogue is improvised, and the only portions that are scripted are scene transitions and challenge explanations. To further protect the brand, the prodco maintains editorial control and makes final decisions on the editing process.

Hecht did not provide any details on the budget, but says one of the biggest challenges of production was building the sets because it had to maintain the look of Ryan’s videos while creating something that was bigger, and more of a spectacle, to draw audiences to TV.

“We’ve taken these great and familiar YouTube challenges and blown them up so it’s more mess, more obstacles and more fun props and costuming to take it to a higher level that the audience will recognize and love,” says Hecht. “But they will also say, ‘Wow! I’ve never seen that before.’”


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Originally published: Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 6:36pm GMT.
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