Those of you who pay close attention to Frederator and Cartoon Hangover* have probably heard that, this fall, we’re super excited to be starting Cartoon Hangover Select, a new, premium version of the channel with a new app called VRV (you can read some of the announcements about it here, here, here, and here). I wanted to expand a bit to everyone on why we’re so happy about it.
The dry facts: VRV is a video-on-demand app, a premium video experience, featuring channels for the fandom, which is built by the team that brought you Crunchyroll**, the anime service.
Let me tell you a story.
Frederator makes really good stuff (he said immodestly). Top drawer films. Not that we’re so darn great, but because, like you, we’re total suckers for the independent voices of amazing creators. Like Pendleton Ward, Natasha Allegri, Breehn Burns, Butch Hartman, Rob Renzetti, Justin & Jesse Moynihan. (I’d list the more than 200 creators we’ve made films with, but you’d stop reading.) Fifteen years after we built Frederator Studios, we started Frederator Networks because it was becoming harder and harder to find a television home for these intrepid storytellers we’d fallen in love with over the years. (For those of you who aren’t deep into these things, television executives often want to tell creators how to write tell a story, write a script, or even how to design characters. Frederator can run into conflicts when we run interference so our creators can make shows their way. So we started our own channels.)
A few years ago, Frederator was approached by YouTube’s Tom Pickett –who we’d become close to when he bought our other video company, Next New Networks– to bring TV quality cartoons to YouTube. Oh Yeah! Random! Too Cool!
Frederator, knowing that cartoons could be different online –independent creators need independent homes– launched Cartoon Hangover with Pendleton Ward’s Bravest Warriors, a show we developed at Nickelodeon but tailored for a teen and older audience. Cartoon Hangover found millions of fans (and millions of views) for the show, but on YouTube we could never get to the point where we could financially support the amount of episodes and production values that Frederator fans wanted and deserved.
We looked at all sorts of solutions to engage Cartoon Hangover fans in a different way, to help us make new cartoons. The Bee and PuppyCat Kickstarter was our first attempt –and happily for all, a successful one at that– to get fans directly involved. But after a string of challenges that time and again proved Murphy’s Law, we are only now getting to the end of that experiment. Frederator knew that there is worldwide appeal for Bravest Warriors (YouTube analytics tell us a lot of interesting things) and started looking for partners to help take it global in a big way.
By this time (late 2014) our old FOF Tom Pickett had become the big kahuna (CEO) of Ellation (Crunchyroll’s owner) and approached Frederator about bringing Cartoon Hangover shows to their VRV app.
Frederator’s long admired Crunchyroll’s success at engaging its anime community with the biggest animation-centric premium subscription service on Earth. And with their direct relationship with Rooster Teeth, one of the most successful independent animation production companies with a track record on the internet that pre-dates YouTube, Ellation has demonstrated a commitment to independent animation content. What better partners are there for Frederator in this effort?
It’s been great getting to know the rest of the Ellation team too. Especially Arlen Marmel, their distribution and marketing guru (now ours too!). Hearing Tom’s and Arlen’s point of view on how subscription services were going to supercharge the world of premium, fandom-based communities, we saw that we were dealing with kindred spirits.
(Not for nothing, community is the key word for me and everyone at Cartoon Hangover and Frederator. Personally, I’m sick of all the video being shoved my way from networks –and the big streamers, too– without an ability to connect with other fans or for my voice to be heard; VRV and Crunchyroll get that, too.) And, we put that together with what we’d been hearing from you; more and more Cartoon Hangoverites had been asking us to start our own subscription channel to make it possible to get more, fresh episodes of their faves. Put it in a pot and stir and we realized that these folks were indeed the perfect collaborators for us.
All right already. Here’s some FAQs we know of, as of today.
The VRV app…
- Free to download on mobile and TV devices.
- Launching later this year.
- It’ll be available on mobile and select devices, including XBox One, to start and hopefully all major connected TV devices soon.
The VRV app will have multiple, awesome, distinct channels including Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Nerdist Alpha, Geek and Sundry Alpha, Seeso, as well as Frederator’s exclusive Cartoon Hangover Select.
- Fans will be able to subscribe to just Cartoon Hangover Select. Or, to multiple channels on VRV.
- VRV is not a service like Netflix or Amazon, where you have to take everything. You get to pick and choose your favorite channel(s) at will. (My editorial comment: For the way I watch video –and, I suspect, the way a lot of you do, too– this is one of the coolest, most innovative options coming from VRV.)
- You can watch for free with advertising. Or, you can subscribe and get access to advertising free programming, as well as exclusive originals and early access to certain stuff.
The VRV app is going to make it possible for Frederator to make a lot more episodes of Bravest Warriors.
Bravest Warriors Season 3 will premiere January 10, 2017 on Cartoon Hangover Select on The VRV app.
- Cartoon Hangover on the VRV app will launch later this fall with the complete first season of Bee and PuppyCat (funded with generous donations from Kickstarter, and Frederator Studios), including the extra episode that will be the season finale of season 1.
Most of those episodes have not been released to the public.
Before those episodes come to VRV, Bee and PuppyCat Kickstarter backers will get free access to see all of the episodes they funded, as well as the extra long Frederator-funded 10th episode funded.
And, not for nothing… More cartoons, more shows about cartoons, more shows of every kind.
- Subscriptions will be reasonably priced. I suppose “reasonable” is in the eye (and pocketbook) of the beholder, but we’re going to keep it a fair-minded trade for seeing our stuff without ads, and in a way that allows us to keep producing more and more series. We’re working hard with VRV to make the whole process pretty simple. I know you’ll let me know if we can do better along the way.
- We plan to do a lot with Cartoon Hangover on YouTube but VRV will be the exclusive place to stream new episodes of Bravest Warriors and Bee and PuppyCat for fans in the United States.
- As I write this post, we’re working on worldwide deals for all of our Cartoon Hangover and Frederator Studios’ shows. I’ll follow up with detailed distribution plans as they come to pass.
So, what do I want you to do with all this information?
Ask questions if you’d like (email@example.com), make suggestions too, if you’ve got any. In the meantime, stay close to this space, or Cartoon Hangover on YouTube for updates as to the specifics of launch and (sensibly priced!) subscription plans. We’ll give you plenty of notice, promise.
* You know that Cartoon Hangover is part of Frederator Networks and Studios, right?
** CR’s parent company is called Ellation, and it’s owned by Otter Media, AT&T, and The Chernin Group, and is a sister company to Fullscreen and Rooster Teeth.