Universal Kids drops original programming

NBCU-owned Universal Kids is shifting its programming strategy and will no longer make original content in order to shore the channel up in the long term, Kidscreen has confirmed. Universal Kids will only be adding acquired content to its linear programming lineup, as well as continuing its partnership with DreamWorks Animation. Any originals that have already been commissioned will also air as scheduled, and will have full marketing support from the network. Some of the broadcaster’s original series included preschool toons Ruff-Ruff, Tweet and Dave, Floogals and Dot. Currently, the channel offers home-grown live-action and unscripted series like Top Chef Junior, with animated kids’ originals Where’s Waldo (DreamWorks Animation Television) and Norman Picklestripes (Factory) premiering in July. In February this year, Deirdre Brennan left after serving as GM for two years. At the time, her departure was attributed to an executive restructure. NBCU’s president of lifestyle networks, Frances Berwick, took over Brennan’s responsibilities when she left. Berwick continues to shoulder those responsibilities as part of her role as lifestyle networks president. Universal Kids was launched in 2017, rebranded from preschool channel Sprout and expanding its target demographic to kids aged between two to 11. After the rebrand, the channel’s ratings plummeted 30 per cent between 2016 and 2017, according to IndieWire. The following year, IndieWire reported that Universal Kids’ ratings dipped an additional 73 per cent.