Universal Kids, a Comcast-NBCUniversal-owned cable channel dedicated to children’s programming, will no longer produce any original content. The move comes after Universal’s unsuccessful rebrand of the Sprout preschool network into Universal Kids, which resulted in a 73% ratings decline between 2017 and 2018.
Universal Kids will remain on air as a linear channel, but per a report in Variety, it will no longer develop original content, instead ramping up its acquisitions from Dreamworks Animation TV. (Dreamworks is also under the NBCUniversal umbrella). The network has also indicated that it will continue to acquire shows from third-party producers.
On the animation front, Universal Kids will soon launch two new Dreamworks series — Where’s Waldo? and Norman Picklestripes — which will join other Dreamworks series currently airing on the channel, such as All Hail King Julien, Dinotrux, The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show, Dragons: Riders of Berk, and Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh.
This strategic shift will impact the New York-based channel’s workforce, according to Kidscreen, which reported that “anyone who was in a content, original content, or development role has been shifted into a new position at Universal, or their job has been eliminated.” It’s not clear how many employees have had their employment affected.
Last February, Deirdre Brennan left her position as general manager for Universal Kids. Her position hasn’t been filled since that time, and Frances Berwick, NBCUniversal Cable’s president of lifestyle networks, has had oversight over the network since that time.