Viacom-owned children’s streaming service Noggin acquires educational app Sparkler – TechCrunch

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Viacom’s Nickelodeon Doubles Educational Aspects Of Its Preschool-Focused Streaming Service, Caboche, with the acquisition of the early childhood learning platform Sparkler. Announced Friday, the deal will see Sparkler’s technology integrated into Noggin over the next year, and makes Sparkler’s co-founder and CEO. Kristen kane the new head of the Noggin streaming service.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Kane founded Sparkler after previously working as the founding COO of an educational technology company Amplify. Previously, she was COO of the New York City Department of Education during the Bloomberg administration and worked at the FCC, where she led the development of strategies for the application of technologies to broad band in the education, health and energy sectors.

With Sparkler, the company had developed a different type of early learning platform that measured a child’s progress in order to deliver personalized content and coaching to parents, as well as other tools that enabled parents, teachers or caregivers to help the child participate in learning activities. both on and off screen.

As part of its efforts, Sparkler worked with schools, health care providers, and social service providers. These relationships will continue through a new nonprofit called Sparkler Learning.

Meanwhile, core Sparkler technology will be integrated into Noggin, providing a similar ability to personalize Noggin content and allowing parents to track and support their child’s progress through “playable content and experiences,” to both in the app and in the real world.

The acquisition represents a further expansion of the educational aspects of Noggin beyond its original goal of offering subscription streaming of children’s television.

First launched in 2015, the idea was for Viacom to capitalize on some of its less popular children’s programs, like Allegra’s Window, Blue’s Room, Franklin and Friends, Gullah Gullah Island, Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends, Oswald, Pocoyo, Robot and Monster and The Upside Down Show – using a few of his more well-known series – like Blue’s Clues, Little Bear and Ni Hao, Kai-lan – as the draw.

Over the years, Noggin has expanded to include current Nickelodeon lineup like PAW Patrol, Peppa Pig, Bubble Guppies, and more, and has added classics like Dora the Explorer, Umizoomi, and Yo Gabba Gabba! The expansion made it a more complete service.

Today, Noggin offers over 1,500 full episodes, short videos, Spanish videos and music videos.

A few years ago, Noggin took their first steps in delivering more educational content with the addition of “play together” videos based on the program. These new interactive videos asked children to touch, tap, swipe or speak to move through the storylines.

The concept was based on work started by the Children’s Television Workshop, which found that when children participated by singing or speaking, they retained more of what they had learned. This work had also led to the development by Nickelodeon of television shows such as Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer, among others, which further standardized the practice of interactive television by ensuring that the characters on the show s’ address the audience directly and ask questions of the children.

Noggin’s focus on its educational aspects – instead of just competing as “Netflix for kids” – has helped him succeed. The app now consistently ranks at the top of the Kids & Family categories on the App Store and is among the top 10 apps for kids in the free rankings. It is also the # 1 music and video app in the Family category on Google Play. And Nickelodeon says Noggin subscriptions grew to triple digits from 2017 to 2018.

Following the deal, Kane will assume the new role of Executive Vice President of Noggin and oversee the integration of Sparkler’s technology into the app. She will also lead Noggin’s strategy and the next phase of development as a digital educational platform, Nickelodeon said.

Kane will be based in New York and will report to Nickelodeon chairman Brian Robbins.

“Combining Sparkler’s capabilities with our program-driven content will completely transform Noggin into a premier interactive learning destination for preschoolers and their families,” Robbins said in a statement. “Kristen brings a wealth of education and technology background, and she will help drive Noggin’s growth with a greater focus on delivering even greater value to our direct-to-consumer service.” , he added.

sparkler website has already closed, but you can read its archives here.

The startup had already received a small grant from win the NewSchools Ignite Early Learning challenge (PreK-2nd Grade) as part of its acceleration program.


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