Looking to make an impact in children’s television, and mine its significant IP library for new programming, Universal Pictures has launched a new kids division. Former Nickelodeon exec Teri Weiss will oversee the division, which is owned by media conglomerate Comcast NBCUniversal.

Teri Weiss.
Teri Weiss.

Universal Kids Productions will focus on generating content from existing IP as well as develop original properties. It’s a pretty big job for one of America’s largest and oldest movie studios, which has so far won the global box office this year with billion-dollar releases like Minions, Furious 7, and Jurassic World.

Universal’s on-again, off-again animation studio has created a significant body of family-oriented work since the early-’90s including the The Land Before Time direct-to-video series and the long-running PBS Kids series Curious George. They also revived the classic Walter Lantz stable in the late-’90s with The New Woody Woodpecker Show.

From 1993 to 1999, Weiss was a producer on Sesame Street before moving over to Nickelodeon, where she subsequently spent 16 years, most notably as an executive vice president of production and development for its preschool division. Over the years, Weiss managed production for Nick series like Dora the Explorer, Max and Ruby, and Yo Gabba Gabba!, and helped develop shows like Team Umizoomi, Bubble Guppies, and Wonder Pets. She was let go from Nick earlier this year as part of a network-wide restructuring.

“It’s an honor to work with the creative teams responsible for many of the biggest franchises in movie history, as well as have an opportunity to expand the studio’s portfolio of kids and family content,” said Weiss.

Officially serving as senior vice president, head of kids/family development and production, Weiss’s plan is to parley Universal’s IP library into family-friendly programming for NBCUniversal-owned channels, which includes the 24-hour preschool hub Sprout as well as NBC and Telemundo, which air the NBC Kids programming block. She’ll have some competition: Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix have been hard at work targeting the same demographic.

For example, Netflix expanded in June its animated offerings with four new series, including Cartoon Saloon’s environmental wonder, Puffin Rock. Last week, Netflix ordered seven new original series, including a sitcom based on Dreamworks Animation’s cavemen franchise The Croods.

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