'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring--because everyone was glued to the television, watching the premiere of Netflix's first original animated series.
On Tuesday, Netflix announced that the first five episodes of Turbo F.A.S.T.--an animated series based on the characters in the Turbo kid's movie released in theaters earlier this year--will be available to stream at midnight PT on December 24. In a break from the "launch all the episodes at once and let 'em binge watch" strategy of Netflix's other original programs, the rest of the 56 11-minute-long Turbo F.A.S.T. episodes will dribble out throughout 2014.
Thinking about the children
Turbo F.A.S.T.'s tale of a racing snail and his pals is just the warm up for Netflix's foray into children's programming. In June, shortly after saying sayonara to Dora, Spongebob, and their Nick Jr. buddies thanks to an expired deal with Viacom, Netflix announced an agreement with DreamWorks to bring 300 hours of original kid's programming to the streaming service, including all-new (and as-yet-unannounced) shows based on existing DreamWorks franchises like Shrek, Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon.
DreamWorks also holds the rights to the Classic Media archive, giving it rights to legendary cartoons like Casper the Friendly Ghost, Godzilla, Voltron, He-Man, and Rocky and Bullwinkle.
DreamWorks and Netflix have yet to announce what other shows are a-coming, but Turbo F.A.S.T. will have some streaming sidekicks before long: The Netflix deal includes U.S. streaming rights for some of DreamWorks' feature films, including Turbo, The Croods, and the upcoming Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
Over the past few months, Netflix has also added kid shows from Disney, Scholastic, and Cartoon Network to its online arsenal.
And that's a good thing for everybody. Keeping kids entertained keeps parents happy--and Netflix investors smiling. Analysts say children's programming is one of the big drivers behind Netflix's soaring success.