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:
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 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)