Rovio is catapulting itself onto a TV screen near you.
The company is bringing its Angry Birds characters to an animated series, "Angry Birds Toons," that will be available on broadcast TV in several countries outside the U.S. starting March 16, and in the Angry Birds app and on Comcast's Xfinity On Demand the following day. Activision, BlackBerry, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures will be the initial advertising partners with more deals expected to close in the coming weeks.
"I think this signals a huge step forward in our evolution from gaming company to media company," Michele Tobin, Rovio's head of brand partnerships and advertising in the Americas, said.
"Toons" will release a new two minute and 45 second episode each week for 52 weeks. Broadcast episodes will run first on Saturday mornings and then go live in the app and on video on demand on Sunday. Angry Birds fans can also find the series on Samsung smart televisions and Roku set-top boxes. All of the ads will be 15 second pre-roll videos.
"We know on mobile people consume content in snackable bites, so this is enough time to tell a story and still be accessible to users," Ms. Tobin said.
All Angry Birds titles will feature a new, large "Toons" button on the app welcome page that users can tap to watch the cartoon. Eventually, "Toons" will be on all Rovio's games.
Placing the "Toons" button next to the "play" button -- which users tap to access the game's levels -- illustrates Rovio's continued effort to use the popularity of its game franchise to become a multimedia entertainment behemoth. Ms. Tobin said Rovio views its games as "a service, not a product" that fuels the company's merchandise, activity parks, film and now television businesses.
The "Toons" advertising partnerships come just a month after Rovio announced it had established an advertising division that would actively pursue having high-profile marketers integrate their brands with new Angry Birds initiatives. It certainly accomplished that here.
"We have consistently looked for ways to engage moviegoers in smart and innovative ways," Paramount Pictures vice chairman Rob Moore said in a statement. "We see Rovio's 'Toons' channel as a great way to promote our upcoming slate."
"Toons" will be available on broadcast in Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Korea and Ukraine. There's currently no linear broadcasting partner in the U.S., but the company is working toward finalizing a deal.