Iconic Spanish show “Pocoyo,” the Stephen Fry-narrated animation about a little boy in blue, is up for a revamp. The 20-year old brand has been acquired by Animaj, the London and Paris-based kids’ media company recently co-founded by former Google and YouTube’s senior executive Gregory Dray (pictured).
Since launching in May 2022, Animaj has raised €100m (in equity and debt), with major investors including U.S. fund Left Lane Capital, and European VC funds Daphni and X-Ange. The company’s mandate is to acquire international IPs with potential and turn them into global franchises.
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“Pocoyo” is already available across free and pay TV, VOD, mobile apps, and games, as well as a massive following on YouTube with more than 40 million subscribers. The show itself is available in 17 different languages with a voice cast that includes Stephen Hugues and José María del Río, as well as Fry. “Pocoyo’s” critical laurels include the top award at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France, and BAFTA in the U.K. plus three Pulcinella awards in Italy.
But the brand could be much bigger, said Dray who launched the company with Sixte de Vauplane. Animaj will look to bolster and modernize “Pocoyo” and turn it into a “global multi-generational franchise that can appeal to today’s pre-school children.”
The fifth season of “Pocoyo” will bow next year with a “significant refresh” that will include new character designs and the introduction of a new female character, Pocoyina, who is the sister of Pocoyo, said Dray. “Pocoyo is a symbol of Spanish and European cultural excellence that has a clear potential to become a global franchise, through increased content investment,” he added.
Besides Pocoyo, Animaj is currently in discussions to acquire several more flagship European kids IPs and turn them into global franchises. Speaking to Variety, Dray said the banner will look to capitalize on the dynamic evolution of the children’s media industry, which have been boasted by the growing use of AI to scale content production, and shift in kids’ content consumption from linear TV to digital platforms.
The executive, who lived in the U.S. for many years and is now based in London, said the company will build massive marketing campaign with a digital-first mindset. “One of the major reasons why the U.S. is able to deliver blockbuster series and movies for kids and families is the level of marketing budget they dedicate, and another is the inventiveness in ways to reach audiences,” argued Dray.
Animaj’s goal, Dray said, is to see a European studio rank in the top 10 of kids and family entertainment producers. “Europe is so rich culturally, and that’s why we want to see more European and international content travel across the globe,” he said, adding that it’s “important for kids who are being brought up watching exclusively U.S. shows to see programs with different type of values and world views.” Some of his ideas to ramp up the exposure of international IPs is to create a new strand on non-exclusive kids premium content on Youtube and other social platforms.
“Pocoyo’s acquisition is a bold step forward in our goal to reinvent the way kids’ content is developed, produced, and distributed, with a digital-first and multi-platform approach, spanning social video, video-on-demand, linear TV, licensing, merchandising, podcasts, music and more,” said de Vauplane, Co-Founder and CEO of Animaj.
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