Battle Bears to break onto small screen as SkyVu announces TV deal
Wildbrain, a DHX Media Ltd. Company behind shows that air on Nickelodeon, Disney and HBO, is licensing the Battle Bears brand to develop a TV series (left) and consumer products line. The series, according to SkyVu founder and CEO Ben Vu, will consist of 26 episodes at 30 minutes each (a full season) and could debut as early as a year from today.* Possible channels include Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney XD.
"By partnering with a major animation studio, SkyVu can stay focused on creating the best core mobile games while continuing to expand the brand into other mediums," Vu, whose Battle Bear apps have logged more than 18 million downloads,* said in an email interview today. "Wildbrain has successful development, marketing and licensing teams that span the globe and will get the Battle Bears brand to TV networks and retail stores everywhere."
In a press release today, Wildbrain president Michael Polis said Battle Bears has enjoyed worldwide success as a mobile game company. "(It) has the potential to become the next big boys action comedy brand," Polis said.
In the deal, SkyVu maintains full creative oversight of anything that Wildbrain produces or licences out. Vu said the animation studio has flown its team to Omaha and SkyVu visits Wildbrain's L.A. studio frequently. Together, they craft what happens in each episode, how the characters will look and be defined and what new characters might emerge.
The deal adds another stream of revenue for SkyVu, a three-year-old startup that reached profitability earlier this year through its free-to-play model. SkyVu will get a royalty for every episode sold and every consumer product licensed out.
"What we're more excited about though is providing a full, 360-degree brand experience to our growing fan base. For instance, if a player is watching a Battle Bears TV episode, they can launch up a Battle Bears game on their phone or tablet and get unique in-game prizes," Vu (right) said. Future plans call for users to purchase or earn branded merchandise by playing the games.
"We're only starting to scratch the surface of what will be a huge entertainment brand perfectly in tune with mobile, media and retail," said Vu, who still aspires to bring Battle Bears to the big screen one day and has a finished screenplay for a Battle Bears movie.
Today's news follows SkyVu's August announcement that it raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding led by Chicago-based Lightbank. Since that announcement, SkyVu has added four employees to its team, bringing the total to 29 in its Omaha office.
"I'm very proud of the SkyVu team for achieving this milestone," Vu said. "We still have a ways to go, but to get a major TV studio to invest in what we created here in Omaha is very special."
Here's a teaser for a recent Battle Bears game that Vu has provided as an example of the forthcoming TV series, though he said the animation would be a higher quality.
Updated 7 p.m. – When published, article stated Battle Bears has "logged more than 8 million downloads." Its total number of downloads is more than 18 million. The article has been updated with this number.
Updated Oct. 5 – A previous version of this article contained a projected date for the show's debut that mentioned a specific month and year. At SkyVu's request, the month and year were replaced with the phrase "one year from today."