Friday, February 14, 2020

Netflix Acquires 'Thomas & Friends' in the US

The streamer has the rights to seasons 23 and 24 of Mattel Television's Thomas and Friends in the US, first dropping in March. The licensing rights, meanwhile, divert back to Mattel from Nickelodeon.

Netflix has picked up the streaming rights for Mattel Television’s Thomas and Friends in the US, Kidscreen has revealed. Season 23 will be available on the streamer in March 2020, followed by season 24 later this year.


The Mattel series moved over from PBS to Nick Jr. only two years ago. At the time Mattel and Nickelodeon signed a deal that all new seasons of the series would air on the preschool network and Nick would take over as the brand’s exclusive US licensing agent. Nickelodeon in the US will no longer air Thomas and Friends following this deal with Netflix. And the consumer products rights are now back with Mattel as the toy company continues to focus on building franchises.

Internationally, Netflix will have library episodes in Asia (Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam), Canada, Europe (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland), Latin America and the United Kingdom. Specific content availability dates will vary by market.

However, Mattel will continue to work with local broadcasters across the globe on a non-exclusive basis to air current seasons. Thomas & Friends currently airs on Milkshake! and Cartoonito in the U.K.

The 23rd season of Thomas consists of 20 x 11-minute eps and three 22-minute specials.

When the series first hit airwaves it was on PBS in 1989 as sequences on Shining Time Station. But it began as a standalone Thomas & Friends half-hour series in 2004 on PBS in the US and only left the pubcaster for Nickelodeon in 2018, ending nearly 30 years of programming on the American pubcaster.

From TBI Vision:

Netflix steams off with Thomas and Friends in US

Netflix has acquired the streaming rights for Mattel’s Thomas and Friends in the US.

Season 23 will be available on the streamer in March, followed by season 24 later this year.

The news was revealed during Mattel’s earnings call on Thursday. “Today, we are pleased to announce that Thomas and Friends, the iconic children’s series, will be available on Netflix in the United States starting this March,” Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz said.

The series launched in 1984 and aired on PBS until 2017 when Nickelodeon became Thomas and Friends’ network, carrying seasons 21, 22 and 23.

Netflix will offer select library episodes of Thomas and Friends internationally in Asia (Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam), Canada, Europe (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland), Latin America and the United Kingdom. Specific content availability dates will vary by market.

Mattel will also continue to work with broadcasters across the globe to air the current season of Thomas and Friends.

Netflix has been bolstering its kids animation slate in recent months, in part to fend off competition from Disney+. This week Netflix boarded Mighty Express, a new CG-animated series for pre-school children from the creator and producers of PAW Patrol.

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From Deadline:

Netflix Nabs U.S. Rights To ‘Thomas & Friends’ Children’s Animated Series

Thomas & Friends is headed to streaming. Netflix will become the new U.S. TV home of the classic children’s animated series. The news was revealed during Mattel’s earnings calls Thursday.

“Today, we are pleased to announce that Thomas & Friends, the iconic children’s series, will be available on Netflix in the United States starting this March,” the company’s CEO Ynon Kreiz said.

The series about the talking tank engine launched in 1984 and aired on pubcaster PBS until 2017 when Nickelodeon signed a wide-ranging deal to become Thomas & Friends‘ network home and take over as the brand’s exclusive US licensing agent in various merchandising categories. (Those rights are now reverting to Mattel.)

Nick Jr. carried Seasons 21. 22 and 23 of Thomas & Friends, along with specials. Beginning in March, Season 23, which had aired on Nick Jr. last year, will be available on Netflix, with the new Season 24 launching on the service later this year.

Additionally, Netflix will offer select library episodes of Thomas and Friends internationally in Asia (Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam), Canada, Europe (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland), Latin America and the United Kingdom. Specific content availability dates will vary by market. Mattel will also continue to work with broadcasters across the globe to air the current season of Thomas and Friends.

Netflix has been ramping up its kids animation slate as it faces stiff competition from the new dominant player in the space, Disney+ and its extensive Disney/Pixar animation library. At Netflix, Mattel also has Masters of the Universe: Revelation series.

The Thomas & Friends’ library, which includes the first 22 seasons of the show, is currently not available for streaming in the U.S.

Season 23 of Thomas & Friends follows the famed blue engine as he travels to Italy and Brazil, making new friends, exploring new cultures and unearthing new discoveries. The season consists of 20 11-minute episodes. It also includes three 22-minute specials, Digs & Discoveries: All Tracks Lead to Rome, Digs & Discoveries: Mines of Mystery and Steam Team to the Rescue.

Thomas the Tank Engine was introduced 75 years ago by Reverend W. Awdry as stories for his son. The stories became an award-winning global franchise which includes toys, consumer products, apps, books, location-based entertainment, and video and audio content. The animated television program Thomas & Friends consists of more than 500 episodes and specials and has been licensed to air in 180 territories and in 54 different languages.

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More Thomas: Thomas & Friends Launches Collaboration With the United Nations to Inspire the Next Generation of Global Citizens!

Originally published: Thursday, February 13, 2020.

H/T: What's On Netflix.
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