- The kids-entertainment company Pocket.Watch takes YouTube stars like Ryan ToysReview and turns their online brands into lucrative empires.
- Kerry Tucker, the chief marketing officer at Pocket.Watch, spoke with Business Insider about how the company takes a self-produced YouTube channel and turns it into a multimillion-dollar franchise.
- Using strategic partnerships with companies like Walmart, Amazon, and Nickelodeon, Pocket.Watch takes clients past YouTube and gets them in front of kids even when the screens are turned off.
- Tucker broke down the company’s strategy, from researching data on Generation Alpha (zero to 9 years old) to staying ahead of the curve by listening closely to what kids are consuming.
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The YouTube star Ryan Kaji of Ryan ToysReview has a massive following of 22 million subscribers.
But to become the top-earning YouTuber at an estimated $22 million a year (per Forbes), his face had to go on the shelves of Walmart, on toothbrushes, and on TV. To do so, his team enlisted the help of the kids-entertainment company Pocket.Watch.
Pocket.Watch takes brands that start on YouTube and gets them in front of kids in multiple arenas.
“Most creators are creating out of their homes and really good at what they do in mobilizing audiences through great content,” Kerry Tucker, the chief marketing officer at Pocket.Watch, told Business Insider. “Behind that, they are not seasoned professionals who know how to take themselves off of YouTube and into other things, or even that they have the opportunity to do that.”
The company thinks of itself as a full-service entertainment studio, like a smaller scale Disney or Nickelodeon for internet creators, she said.
It targets Generation Alpha (zero to 9) and works with a small group of internet creators, like HobbyKids TV (3.7 million subscribers), CaptainSparklez (10.7 million subscribers), EvanTubeHD (6 million subscribers), and JillianTubeHD (1.5 million subscribers).
From a self-produced YouTube channel to a multimillion-dollar franchise
Pocket.Watch wants its creators to be on the screens kids are watching and the toys they pick up after the screen is turned off.
“Everything from toys to toothbrushes to television shows,” Tucker said.
Take 8-year-old Ryan, whose channel started from occasional five-minute toy-unboxing videos in 2015. Pocket.Watch acts as an agent for Ryan’s brand, Ryan’s World, and has invested in building an empire around the YouTube star.
The company brought the Ryan’s World brand to Colgate, Nickelodeon, Bonkers Toys, Roku, and Walmart, expanding Ryan from YouTube.
Tucker credits Bonkers, the toy-manufacturing company that produced the Ryan’s World Giant Mystery Egg, with Ryan ToysReview branding, for taking the first “leap of faith” with Ryan.
Since then, Pocket.Watch has developed over 100 licensees, from launching an entire line of Ryan’s World consumer products with Bonkers, to creating and producing “Ryan’s Mystery Playdate,” which airs on Nickelodeon.
Building partnerships with major retailers like Walmart and Target, and media companies like Nickelodeon and Roku
Pocket.Watch works closely with Nickelodeon, Walmart, Target, and Amazon, looking at data and trends to see what’s working and where to move next, Tucker said. The company relies on its partnerships.
Those partnerships start with thinking about the audience, Tucker said. Where does this generation live? What do they want from content and characters?
“It’s not so different from the past,” Tucker said. “They want them on their toothbrushes, backpacks, and other screens in their homes.”
Tucker said Pocket.Watch tracks data on Generation Alpha to stay ahead of the curve and listens closely to what kids are consuming.
Trends and challenges
The biggest challenge is saying no to things that aren’t “brand right,” Tucker said, and keeping up with the pace.
Challenges rise any time YouTube or Google changes something internally, she said. But the company has a strong relationship with Google and will “always know what is happening a little bit ahead of time,” which is common among big YouTube-focused companies. Managers with tight relationships with Google get word of news beforehand to prepare clients, for instance.
She said Pocket.Watch was anticipating changes to Google within the next year that could affect its kids-focused creators.
Earlier this year, one complaint was made with the FTC against Ryan ToysReview, who was accused of “deceiving” the young audience with sponsored content.
But Pocket.Watch isn’t worried, Tucker said.
“Certainly anything that protects the safety and wellness for kids is good,” she said. “We are all good with the regulations, we just want to make sure our creators can navigate it well, and also, it showcases how diversifying their revenue streams is important.”
If a creator were solely dependent on YouTube, and something happens — from restrictions to new platform regulations — that could hurt business. YouTube creators should be moving onto new platforms and building businesses outside YouTube to protect themselves, she said.
That is also, conveniently, Pocket.Watch’s specialty.
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