To get a sense of Pocket.watch’s rapid rise, look no further than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Chris M. Williams, the founder and CEO, launched Start-up in March 2017 using just $6 million Series A funding. He set ambitious goals to bring digital children and family content creators into multiplatform franchises and make them multiplatform. A mere 3 1⁄2 years later, in November 2020, a 42-foot-tall Red Titan balloon depicting the superhero alter ego of Ryan Kaji, star of its top YouTube channel Ryan’s World, floated down 34th Street in Manhattan alongside iconic characters such as Snoopy, SpongeBob and Pikachu.
“You can have a hit TV show or a toy, but when you get into pop culture, that’s when you really start to understand how big your franchises have become,”Albie Hecht, chief of content at Pocket.watch was a former president for TV and film entertainment at Nickelodeon. He co-founded the company with Williams and chief strategy officer Jon Moonves.
Last year, Pocket.watch’s roster of creators generated more than 4 billion hours of views across its 44 global distribution partners, including AVOD, SVOD and linear platforms in more than 129 countries. But watching time is not the only yardstick of the company’s success. It also boasts a popular consumer products line featuring everything from Love, Diana dolls to a Colgate Ryan’s World Pocket Watch Extra Soft Spin toothbrush, as well as mobile games and live events.
“We set out very intentionally to change the conversations around the creative economy and create a whole new digital-first category of franchises,”Williams. “Now, it’s recognized by everyone, including new platforms, retailers and game publishers.”
It in its first year, Pocket.watch partnered with only a handful of creators, including CaptainSparklez, HobbyKidsTV, EvanTubeHD and Ryan’s World, then known as Ryan Toys Review. It was a stark contrast to the 60,000-plus signed to Williams’ previous employer, Disney-owned multichannel network Maker Studios, where he served as chief audience officer.
But as Pocket.watch celebrates its fifth birthday, it’s experiencing a major growth spurt. In May, 13 new creators joined the Pocket.watch family, including Vania Mania Kids, Hudson’s Playground and Mackenzie Turner, giving it a grand total of 30, and more are expected soon.
The library now includes more than 70,000 videos, and more that 15,000 hours of content.
“By bringing more creators into our fold, we are actually creating more heft, more scale, which benefits creators because we can get better output deals,” says Xavier Kochhar, the former AT&T and HBO Max exec who joined Pocket.watch as the company’s first COO and CFO in September.
One of Kochhar’s primary directives is to take the company out of startup mode and scale it up, so it can, in his words, “hang with the big boys.”This could include additional financing or a deal to buy a larger company. “Either we’re going to be big or we’re going to be a part of big.”
Pocket.watch continues its growth and maturation, but it is still cognizant of the youth of those it serves.
“The big thing is making sure that we’re protecting the privacy of the kids that we entertain and educate, and also protecting the joy and authenticity of our creators that inspired them to start doing this in the beginning,” says Kerry Tucker, Pocket.watch’s chief marketing & franchise officer.
While Pocket.watch is determined to maintain the innocence of its constituency, that hasn’t stopped it from devising ingenious ways to help its creator community age gracefully, exemplified by the strategy it’s employing for the Onyx Family, which consists of parents Rita and Mirthell Mitchell and their four children, now ranging in age from 15 to 22. Pocket.watch made them animated. “Onyx Monster Mysteries,”The creation of a family that is forever-young and can be used on its multiplatform franchise as well as their own talk shows. “Onyx Family Dinner,”Children can discuss topics such as racism and mental well-being, nutrition, and body positivity.
“Pocket.watch has been an excellent partner,” says Rita Mitchell. “They’ve grown into such a main player in the business that to have our brand aligned with them has just been a real blessing.”
(Top) Pocket.watch executives, left to right; Albie Hecht is chief content officer; Xavier Kochhar is chief strategy officer. Chris M. Williams founded the company and is its CEO. Kerry Tucker is chief marketing & franchisor executive. Ed Kaufman is general counsel.
(32.6 Million YouTube Subscribers).
Pocket.watch’s most popular property follows 10-year-old Ryan Kaji (dubbed “The Boy King of YouTube”Time Magazine), his parents and younger sisters. It has grown from a simple toy unboxing channel to a megamillion-dollar, multiplatform behemoth encompassing toys, books, apparel, cartoons, a live-action series (Nickelodeon’s “Ryan’s Mystery Playdate”), videogames (“Ryan’s Rescue Squad”), live interactive online experiences and Ryan’s World Plus, a $3.99-per-month SVOD channel available through Amazon.
Toys and colours
(36 million YouTube Subscribers).
These six-language bilingual Asian American children (Wendy, Alex, Emma Jannie, Jannie and Andrew) became famous for playing silly skits and pretending to be their families. Now, under their partnership with Pocket.watch, they’re rolling out “Kaleidoscope City,”This franchise is a brand new one that includes consumer products and games podcasts, live events, as well as a hybrid live-action/CG animated series.
(18 million YouTube subscribers).
It is most well-known for its renowned sandstone. “zero-budget”Parodies “Guess the Price”Videos was hosted by Adam McArthur (20 year old) and Justin Kroma (20 year old). “Lankybox Simulator”Roblox game, plush toys and a line
Vania Mania Kids
(17 Million YouTube Subscribers).
In 2015, siblings Mania and Stefy launched the channel in Russia. Dasha and Dasha also started it. They play, pretend and learn, explore and share their life with their parents.
(7 Million YouTube Subscribers)
Ukraine-born Diana, 8 year old (aka the “Princess of Play”) recently launched her own line of toys and clothing for kids available at Walmart and other retailers.
(3.5 Million YouTube Subscribers).
The African American Mitchell family is made up of parents Rita, Mirthell and their children Shalom and Sinead. They also have children Shiloh, Shasha and Shasha. “Onyx Monster Mysteries”) to the serious (the “Onyx Family Dinner”Talk show featuring interviews with everyone from Jemele to journalist Nikole Hann Jones.
(1.24 Million YouTube Subscribers).
Evangeline and Mercedes Lomelino, ages 19-14, and 15 respectively, mix gaming, vlogs, and sketch comedy to share their life hacks.