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Welcome to the Gold Rush of Internet Animation Channels

In last week’s post about Butch Hartman’s animation channel, I wrote that, “The word of the year for Internet content is CHANNELS.” The LA Times is tracking the trend as well, and published two pieces this week –here and here–highlighting some of the forthcoming animation “channels.” Most of these channels appear to be producing content with an Adult Swim/Comedy Central vibe, targeted at young adult males. Their goal, no doubt, will be to steal advertising dollars away from their cable channel competitors.

Here’s a handy guide to who’s doing what:

Mondo Media
The creator of Happy Tree Friends and distributor of Six Point Harness’s Dick Figures, Mondo Media already operates a successful YouTube channel with over 1 billion views. Now they will receive additional funding from Google (YouTube’s parent company) which announced its ambitious plan last fall to build dozens of online channels. According to the LA Times, Mondo Media will apply its funding toward the production of 65 original pilots over the next year. They are accepting pitches on their website, and are looking for shows that cater to teens and young adults. Mondo has already signed production deals with actor Carlos Alazraqui, and Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine, who created the YouTube series Ask a Ninja.

Cartoon Hangover
Cartoon Hangover is the second major animation channel blessed with YouTube funding. It’s run by veteran animation producer Fred Seibert (Adventure Time, Fanboy and Chum Chum, What A Cartoon!). Seibert’s earlier foray into online channels–Channel Frederator–led to the formation of Next New Networks, which was purchased by YouTube for tens of millions of dollars last year. That channel was criticized on Cartoon Brew for Seibert’s unwillingness to pay filmmakers for films that were building his personal brand. With Cartoon Hangover, Seibert is reverting to a traditional production model and will fund the creation of animated series from creators with established track records. Ten original series are planned including Bravest Warriors by Adventure Time creator Pen Ward, and Superf*ckers by comic artist James Kochalka.

Shut Up! Cartoons
The third animation channel being funded by YouTube, Shut Up! Cartoons was created by Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox, who run the well known YouTube channel Smosh. They’re planning 18 original series including Krogzilla Gets a Job being developed by Hoodwinked co-director Cory Edwards and Pubertina based on a student short created by CalArts Experimental grad Emily Brundige. Shut Up!’s president and executive producer has a history in TV animation: Barry Blumberg was the president of Disney TV Animation between 1994 and 2006.

Yahoo doesn’t appear to be building a network (at least not yet), but they’re investing in animation in a big way. Their tentpole project is Electric City, an animated series conceived by and starring Tom Hanks. The production company for the show is India’s Reliance Entertainment, which ironically has a partnership with Digital Domain. Electric City, which will premiere this summer, has a budget of $2.5 million for 20 episodes between four to five minutes each. The per-minute cost exceeds the average production cost of animated shows on cable, so if they use that money wisely, the show should have high production values.

(Images at top from Emily Brundige’s “Pubertina” series)

  • The Gee

    This is all good to know. Other than YouTube’s cultivating of channels and announced partnerships and Mondo Media’s pitch request, I haven’t been keeping track of much lately.

    The Tom Hanks thing seems over-the-top but any production made for online can be re-purposed for traditional outlets. If that is a goal, I don’t know. At one point not too long ago, Internet Incubators were the rage. Ron Howard had some site that barely got off the ground (Bang? Pop? Wow?).

    I still don’t see how online ads are even close to getting even small cable TV channel ad dollars. Premium pricing isn’t that common for first run content is it? Or, does Hulu, Crackle, ESPN and other sites get higher rates for second run content?

  • Wait for me, guys! My channel wants to join in!

  • FYI, we designed and produced the animation for Electric City here at Six Point Harness.

  • please stop

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  • Emily Brundige

    Thanks for posting, Amid! I’m super excited to share Pubertina with the inter-world. I hope everyone will check it out and SMOSH’s other series when they start to launch April 30th!

  • AC

    I might keep an eye on this. Considering the pitch to Mondo. Don’t wanna be a part of the content network I’m in now forever (funding for affording voice actresses and composers would be awesome).

  • AC

    My only problem though is I haven’t been able to make the pilots for my character driven series due to a lack of funding. I take it they want to see something finished first before letting you on.

    ….anything’s worth a try though..

  • I considered doing something like this with my own site. I just never had the time to put it together. I may have to find the time, and expand from simply doing cartoon internet radio channels to doing interent tv channels.

    I like to add Channel TXB to you list. It’s basically a set of YouTube playlists, but I like what Jeff Harris is doing with it.

  • It’s really cool that more internet animation channels and projects are coming up. I wish I could participate more but most of these channels, and the internet as a whole, prefer more adult fare in their online animations, and my cartoons are pretty tame.

  • I was hoping Brew TV would eventually just become an online animation channel. I don’t know the ins and outs business wise, but Jerry and Amid seem to respect animators and are good curators.

  • O

    This is great! There is nothing more inspiring than to see the animation market seek to quench the thirst of an audience eager to be entertained by original content. The upside to this is that the internet is being recognized as a reliable source of worthwhile animation rather than creators being limited to the elephants of broadcast (Viacom, Disney, Turner). The struggle would be actual production. Individual animators would be hopeful, but unable to make a consistent quantity of episodes and maintain good quality. It would be a great market for a studio like House of Cool or SPA (Sergio Pablos Animation) to release original content because they have the manpower and talent to create content more aesthetically pleasing. I am eager to see if any small yet strong studio will seize this opportunity to cause a wave on the inter”webs”

  • Turns out my content network is indeed jumping on the bandwagon with MotionPXL-very early stages for now though and I’ve yet to verify any pay.