Pocket.watch shies away from SVOD service, but promises to build kid-focused YouTube brands

HobbyKidsTV is a family of 10 YouTube channels that count roughly 200 million views each month.

Pocket.watch, a media company that launched earlier this year focused on creating, acquiring and distributing content for kids age 2-11, today announced that it partnered with HobbyKidsTV, a family of 10 YouTube channels that count roughly 200 million views each month. Pocket.watch said it will work to expand HobbyKidsTV’s audience—but executives said that effort will not include the launch of a pocket.watch SVOD service.

“We think you need to have reach and brand recognition before you launch your own SVOD service,” said Jon Moonves, chief strategy officer of pocket.watch. “We’re content to use the existing platforms.”

That position is notable considering the vast array of direct-to-consumer SVOD services that have launched during the past several months, from Time Warner's Boomberang to 4KUniverse.

Moonves—brother to the CEO of CBS Les Moonves—explained that his new company is specifically designed to take creators, including YouTube channels like HobbyKidsTV, to the next level. He said the company can do that through its front office of experienced media veterans, which includes former executives from Disney, Nickelodeon, Maker Studios and other top companies. He added that the company will be able to help its creator partners find new avenues for expansion, whether that’s creating premium TV series for Netflix, writing books or developing mobile games.

But for online video specifically, Moonves said that pocket.watch views the space through the metaphor of an analog clock. He explained that the second hand on a clock represents platforms like Facebook or Snapchat, where content is typically short and consumed immediately. YouTube, meantime, represents the minute hand, where content is typically longer, with a protracted shelf life. Finally, Moonves said a clock’s hour hand represents premium content like Netflix, YouTube Red or Amazon.

“All those [platforms] should be working in sync with each other,” Moonves said, explaining that pocket.watch aims to help its creators, like HobbyKidsTV, efficiently expand beyond one platform and one type of offering.

“You can explore all these things,” he said. “The right content for YouTube is not the right content for other platforms … There’s lots of platforms out there that need content.”

Interestingly, Moonves explained that most of pocket.watch’s creators currently make most of their revenues from YouTube.

“Most of the partners primarily live on YouTube, so most of their revenues are primarily generated on that platform … We hope to open those doors through other distribution means,” he said, pointing to books or apps or premium TV series. “That’s the beautiful thing about content, it can live on any platform.”

“What we want to try to do is take those brands that mean something and work with those people to help them extend their brand to other areas, distribution-wise and other forms of content,” he said.

Pocket.watch launched in March with a Series A venture financing round of $6 million, led by venture-capital firm Third Wave Digital with participants including CBS’ Moonves, movie producer Jon Landau, and actor Robert Downey Jr.’s Downey Ventures. The company in March told the Wall Street Journal that it eventually intends to create its own online video channels, as well as on-demand channels for its programming that could be distributed via cable and satellite operators. The company set a goal to have 1,000 pocket.watch videos across five owned-and-operated channels as well as social media platforms by the end of the year.