DreamWorks Animation is getting into the TV business with Netflix. Netflix announced today that it will be teaming up with DreamWorks for a multi-year deal to premiere web-original series from the company behind the “Shrek,” “Madagascar,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon” franchises on the streaming service.
It’s the largest deal for original first-run content in Netflix history, and also marks DreamWorks Animation’s big venture into bringing the characters from its films to the TV medium (as well as ones from the Classic Media library it acquired, which includes “Casper the Friendly Ghost,” “Lassie,” “Rocky & Bullwinkle,” “The Lone Ranger” and more). The initiative is part of DreamWorks’ effort to expand television production and distribution worldwide, and will include over 300 hours of new programming, with the first series stated to air in 2014.
This announcement follows an earlier one from February in which DreamWorks and Netflix touted they’d be working together on “Turbo: F.A.S.T.,” Netflix’s first original children’s series, a sequel to DreamWorks’ “Turbo” feature due in theaters on July 17. While not as flashy as a David Fincher-directed political drama starring Kevin Spacey, the forays into kiddie programming are solid business, as seen by Amazon’s pursuit of the demographic in its first original programming efforts — parents have an opportunity to give their kids commercial-free access to young audience-aimed sections of the site.
DreamWorks has also committed to making their films available on Netflix next year, starting with “The Croods,” “Turbo” and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.” “This is an unprecedented commitment to original content in the internet television space,” said DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg in the announcement. “Netflix is a visionary company that continues to redefine the way audiences watch television and it is a thrill to add to their growing momentum.”