Exclusive: 'CoComelon' is getting spinoffs. Why the preschool show is streamed more than 'Grey's Anatomy'
When you wonder what the most-viewed shows on streaming are, you might think of Netflix heavy hitters like "Stranger Things" or "Wednesday." But you might not expect to see a brightly colored musical preschool program with three-minute episodes set to the tune of "Row Row Row Your Boat" to be so popular it's racked up billions of minutes viewed.
But that's exactly the case with "CoComelon," a massive hit animated series aimed at toddlers that streams on Netflix and YouTube. The chipper program, about a young boy named JJ and his family and friends, is entirely in song, with a mix of familiar nursery rhymes and original music. It was streamed for more than 37.8 billion minutes in 2022, according to Nielsen, ranking it among the top 10 streaming shows list every week in 2022, joined only by "NCIS" and "Grey's Anatomy." It was the third-most streamed show overall, behind only "NCIS" and "Stranger."
Preschool TV is nothing new, and parents everywhere have longed to plop their tiny tots in front of something so they can grab just 10 minutes to whip up a dinner or snack. But "Doc McStuffins" (Disney+) and "Calliou" (PBS Kids) aren't racking up the kind of numbers "CoComelon" does. It has now generated spinoffs including "Cody Time" and "JJ’s Animal Time," with a third, focused on supporting character Nina, due later this year, USA TODAY can exclusively reveal.
So what makes the "CoComelon" special?
"It’s the songs and the relatable everyday moments, and the always positive outlook that sets 'CoComelon' apart," says Meghan Sheridan, senior creative executive for the brand. "There’s a real magic in music; we hear from parents that 'CoComelon' is like the soundtrack to their days."
Internal research from the brand's parent company, Moonbug, suggests that both parents and children enjoy the everyday routines depicted in the series, with 62% of parent viewers surveyed agreeing that their kids can learn good habits from the show. The most popular episode is one of the most typical, even mundane parts of life: bath time. It has more than 6 billion views.
"We meet little kids and their families where they’re at. And we never underestimate our audience," Sheridan says. "We approach every aspect of storytelling from the point of view of little kids – how they see the world, their strongest interests at this particular developmental stage of life and what makes them laugh."
The expanding world of "CoComelon" reflects the expanding audience of the series. Both "Cody" and the future Nina series focus on characters of color – Cody is Black and Nina is Mexican American.
"Our audience data shows that Black, Hispanic, and AAPI families are the fastest growing segment of the 'CoComelon' audience," says Sheridan. "We know how important it is for kids to see themselves and their daily lives reflected in the content they watch. We’re happy to see how strongly audiences connected with Cody. ... It was a natural next step to expand Nina’s world."
"Cody Time," which has 2.5 million subscribers on YouTube, is coming to Netflix Feb. 15, and Nina will get her own YouTube channel later this year. And who knows how big the "CoComelon" universe can get. With viewership numbers like these, parents and kids can look forward to nursery rhymes from "CoComelon" for a long time to come.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'CoComelon': Why preschool show is streamed more than 'Grey's Anatomy'