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Viacom’s Nickelodeon has acquired Sparkler, an early-childhood learning platform that measures children’s developmental progress. The company’s technology will be used to bolster Nickelodeon’s preschooler-focused Noggin streaming service.
Sparkler co-founder Kristen Kane has also been appointed Noggin’s executive vice president. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Noggin offers a library of more than 1,500 episodes of Viacom’s popular children’s shows like Paw Patrol, Dora the Explorer and Peppa Pig. Nickelodeon will integrate Sparkler’s learning technology into Noggin with the aim of creating engaging educational experiences for kids, whose progress can be tracked by parents.
“Pairing Sparkler’s capabilities with our curriculum-driven content will fully transform Noggin into a premier interactive learning destination for preschoolers and their families,” Nickelodeon president Brian Robbins said.
Sparkler previously received funding from NewSchools Venture Fund as part of its NewSchools Ignite: Early Learning Cohort. NewSchools is a nonprofit investment firm that invests in education companies via charitable funds. Its ventures include a number of edtech companies such as Khan Academy, Newsela, and Brightwheel, as well as innovative schools and leadership programs.
“NewSchools invested in Sparkler when it was an early-stage product, in large part because their strategy of thoughtfully connecting parents, educators and healthcare professionals had high potential for positive impact,” Stacey Childress, CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, told Karma Network on April 4.
The acquisition will help Nickelodeon, among the U.S.’s top children’s networks by viewership, hold onto its market share as kids abandon traditional television for sites like YouTube or streaming services like Netflix.
Adding an educational factor to its service also differentiates Noggin from the children-focused streaming efforts of other entertainment giants, such as Apple, which has a partnership with Sesame Workshop for its recently announced Apple TV+ service, and Disney+, the family-friendly streaming service from the Walt Disney Co. expected to launch late this year.
Nickelodeon reported that Noggin subscriptions have tripled between 2017 and 2018. According to Bloomberg, it boasts around 2.5 million subscribers.