How the founder of sees the future of children’s entertainment

When Chris Williams founded entertainment platform in 2017, he was certain that no one had yet found the right way to work with the generation of children’s talent finding its audience on platforms like YouTube.

Convinced that packaging creators under one umbrella and leveraging the expanding reach of even more media platforms could reshape the way children’s content was produced, the former Maker Studios and Disney executive launched his company to offer emerging social media talent more avenues to create entertainment that resonates with young audiences.

On the back of the breakout success of Ryan’s World, a YouTube channel which counted 33.6 billion views and more than 22 million subscribers as of early November, it appears that Williams was on the right track. As he looks out at the children’s media landscape today, Williams says he sees the same forces at work that compelled him to create the business in the first place. If anything, he says, the trends are only accelerating.

The first is the exodus of children from traditional linear viewing platforms to on-demand entertainment. The rise of subscription streaming services, including Disney+, HBO Max and Apple Plus — combined with the continued demand for new children’s programming on Netflix — is creating a bigger market for children’s programming.

“If you’re a subscription-based service, what kids’ content does for you is it prevents churn,” says Williams.

That’s drawing attention from new, ad-supported streaming providers like the Roku Channel, PlutoTV and SamsungTV Plus, which are also thirsty for children’s storytelling. Williams says he sees fertile ground for new programming among the ad-based, video-on-demand services. “Kids and family content tends to be the most highly engaging that creates consumption in homes. That creates a lot of opportunities for advertisers.”

The Roku Channel and Viacom’s PlutoTV service show that there’s still demand for ad-supported, on-demand alternatives that are more curated than just YouTube. It’s a potential opportunity for more startups, as well as an opportunity for studios looking to pitch their talent and programming.

“When we’ve launched a new 24-7 video channel and AVOD library and omni services… [we] know that content is surrounded by other premium content,” says Williams.

For all of the opportunities these new platforms bring, Williams says YouTube isn’t going anywhere as one of the dominant new forces in children’s entertainment,  despite its many, many woes. In fact, one of Williams’ new initiatives at is predicated on changes that YouTube is seemingly making in terms of the programming that it promotes with its algorithms.

“We’ve always been invested in content that is educational in nature and that sometimes is rewarded by the YouTube algorithm and sometimes it’s not,” Williams says. “We’re starting to see some things that were rewarded on YouTube that were not before… especially around skills [and] we really believe in life skills as something to invest in.” is working on a new show called “Mar Mar Land” that incorporates life skills into its content, one of several new additions to its expanding stable of programming. Williams describes the show’s creator, Marlin Ramsey Chan, as “a Mr. Roger for the YouTube generation.”

In addition to Mar Mar, is looking to increase the diversity of its roster of creators with the addition of the Onyx Family and Eh-Bee Family to its squad.

“We’re really focused on a very small group that have been vetted very closely by us,” says Williams. With each new addition, he says the team at will spend months observing the families or creators both at work and at play.

“Once we’re partners with someone, we give to them a creator field guide and in that guide we share with them a lot of information,” says Williams. That includes how to set up a trust account for child actors and giving them guidelines regarding SAG-AFTRA requirements for child performers regarding how long children should be in front of the camera, when to take breaks and how to book studio teachers who’ll tutor performers on-set.

The current generation of entertainers on YouTube are largely unrepresented by actors’ unions and many aren’t protected by the child labor laws traditional studios observe, another area that Williams is hoping to change.

“The only reason we have to do this is because there has not been the same kind of guidance” for YouTubers, says Williams. “We’re hoping and are advocates for regulatory bodies and governments to establish these same type of guidelines that exist in traditional and bring them to digital.”

As expands, the company sees more opportunity to become involved with animated programming and collaborate with its talent roster to incorporate more animated material into their own offerings.

For instance, much of Ryan’s World contains animation that’s done through the family’s Sunlight Entertainment production house. In the last year, the studio brought an animation team in-house and has produced a “Hobby Kids Adventures” series now distributed on Hulu, YouTube, Vudu and Amazon Prime. The series has around 31 million views so far, says Williams.

It’s easier for studios to take a multi-pronged approach, says Williams. And there are opportunities for deals in apparel, toys, and other merchandise that can make a small shop like look more like a Disney in terms of its reach into the consumer marketplace.  

Still, even with all of the revenue coming in, isn’t yet profitable. “Businesses should be making money and I think that’s really important, but when you’ve had the successes we’ve had it’s pretty easy to picture how we get there,” Williams says.

Ultimately, the goal for — and for every children’s-focused entertainment startup — is ubiquity. “Our goal is to be everywhere where kids are… if that means having channels on Pluto or selling a show like ‘Ryan’s Mystery Playdate’ to Nickelodeon, we’re going to do all of it,” Williams says.