Netflix has agreed to acquire StoryBots, the company behind the original Netflix children’s series “Ask the StoryBots.”
StoryBots was founded by Gregg and Evan Spiridellis, the creators of JibJab. The price of the acquisition will be immaterial to Netflix, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The acquisition marks a turn for the company toward buying intellectual property. It’s Netflix’s second content company acquisition after buying MillarWorld in 2017. StoryBots will expand its series offerings within Netflix after the acquisition. Season three of “Ask The StoryBots” comes out later this year. The show is available in 22 languages across 190 countries.
Netflix’s interest in StoryBots derived from its increasing push to expand educational content, said StoryBots CEO Gregg Spiridellis in an interview with CNBC.
“Netflix really wants to create an educational franchise that’s global,” Spiridellis said. “That’s what they see StoryBots as. We want to make StoryBots the next generation of Sesame Street.”
The Spiridellis brothers sold JibJab six months ago to private equity firm Catapult Capital to focus on making StoryBots, which has aired exclusively on Netflix since 2016. The brothers decided to sell the company to Netflix to gain distribution and take advantage of Netflix’s scale for licensing and merchandising around its characters.
“Ask The StoryBots” has featured the voices of many celebrity guest stars, including rapper Snoop Dogg, actor Edward Norton and comedian Ali Wong.
Both Gregg and Evan Spiridellis will stay at Netflix and work in the company’s animation department. The two will be solely focused on expanding StoryBots, rather than making other shows, for the foreseeable future, said CEO Spiridellis.
Netflix doesn’t share its data on how many viewers watch its shows, even with the show’s creators, Spiridellis said. Now that Netflix has acquired StoryBots, he is anxious to learn that information, he said. StoryBots has more than 1 billion views on YouTube and the company’s own website and apps, Spiridellis said.
“Netflix is a data driven company, so I’d imagine they’re doing this because of the metrics,” Spiridellis said.