September 30, 2020

Netflix snags US Pokémon animated series rights; 23rd season begins June 12

The new Netflix Pokémon deal is a big acquisition, as it expands its kids content to compete with rivals like Disney Plus.

Netflix is going after Disney Plus and its family-centric audience with a major new acquisition. Today, Netflix revealed it will be the exclusive US outlet for future episodes of the long-running Pokémon animated series. The Netflix-Pokémon deal begins when the first 12 episodes of Pokémon Journeys debut on the service June 12. New episodes from the season will then drop every quarter.

The new series will once again center on Pokémon Trainer Ash Ketchum and his cute Pokémon, Pikachu. Ash gets recruited by the Cerise Laboratory to travel around the Pokémon world to learn more about the mysterious creatures in each region.

Netflix already has a number of older Pokémon seasons to binge-watch, along with several movies, such as the recently released Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back?Evolution.

As Polygon points out, previous seasons of the Pokémon series have made their US debuts on more traditional kids-based cable TV outlets, like Cartoon Network and Disney XD. However, more and more children are watching shows geared to their audience via streaming services. The launch of Disney Plus in 2019, which is aimed specifically at kids and family audiences, has helped to accelerate that trend, as it has now signed up over 50 million subscribers in less than six months.

The fight to get kids’ eyeballs on streaming services will get an even bigger boost on May 27 when HBO Max launches. It will have the exclusive rights to shows like Sesame Street along with the full library of films from Japan-based Studio Ghibli. It will also be the home to new children’s shows, such as the new Looney Tunes animated series and the Sesame Street talk show The Not-Too Late Show With Elmo.

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