Viacom International Media Networks, a division of Viacom Inc., announced on October 15, 2019 a collaboration with Youku, the video streaming platform of Alibaba Group, to develop and produce an original animated series with the working title “Little Luban.” A memorandum of understanding for a multi-year content development and distribution partnership between the two companies was signed today at MIPCOM in Cannes, France.
“Little Luban” will feature characters and themes that the production partners believe will resonate with viewers around the world. Global values of friendship and teamwork, along with specific elements of Chinese culture and philosophy will be incorporated into both the storyline and the visuals.
The original production is targeted at younger kids audience but is also intended to be enjoyed as family-viewing. The development and production of the animated series will leverage the content development expertise and production resources of Viacom International Studios (VIS), which is responsible for all international content syndication, format sales and production and co-production activities for Viacom outside the United States.
Youku and VIMN will also further cooperate to develop and license a range of consumer products to support the series. Excited about the collaboration are Nickelodeon and VIMN international production and development senior vice president Nina Hahn, VIMN senior vice president and general manager for Greater China Pierre Cheung and Youku Kids general manager Aaron Liao.
“We are so excited to partner with Youku and welcome ‘Little Luban’ to the Nickelodeon family,” Hahn stated. “It’s a natural brand fit and we are looking forward to developing the project into something that kids around the world will watch with love.”
According to Cheung, there is a big pool of animation talent in China. They are continuously exploring opportunities to collaborate with local partners, he said.
“We’re delighted to partner with Youku and now add ‘Little Luban’ to our slate of projects,” Cheung said. “We’re very confident the characters and concepts will have strong appeal to Youku’s viewers and we look forward to introducing ‘Little Luban’ to Nickelodeon viewers in other markets.”
A multi-screen online video sharing and streaming platform in China, Youku forms a key part of Alibaba Group’s digital media and entertainment business under its Double H (Health and Happiness) strategy. Youku Kids offers high-quality programming, covering a comprehensive range of categories including animation series, nursery songs, puzzle games, e-books and preschool education.
“We are excited to join forces with Viacom to create an original and uplifting story inspired by Chinese tradition and culture,” Liao said. “We look forward to not just bringing the series to Chinese viewers but also sharing these characters with children and families across the world.”
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