Rovio's line of "Angry Birds" mobile games is so successful -- with 1.7 billion downloads across all titles and more than 250 million active users, according to the company -- that it can get away with casually comparing "Angry Birds" to "Tetris," one of the most iconic titles in video game history.
But now Rovio is trying to use the game's popularity to make itself into a full-fledged media company, saying Wednesday morning that it had struck deals for outside production companies to run their series on ToonsTV, a fledgling on-demand video "channel" growing out of the "Angry Birds Toons" shorts it introduced earlier this year.
Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man and the X-Men, is helping create one of the new series, "Chakra the Invincible," about an Indian superhero. "Chakra" will appear on ToonsTV this fall, Rovio said, although it won't be exclusive to the platform. National Geographic Kids will bring some of its original content to the channel, as will Hasbro Studios, which makes original series for its Transformers, My Little Pony and G.I. Joe brands.
Jim Henson fans will be able to watch whole "Fraggle Rock" episodes on ToonsTV as well.
Rovio will be selling video ads against the ToonsTV shows, which like "Angry Birds Toons" will be initially available within Rovio apps and on Samsung smart TVs and Roku boxes, But the channel will eventually have its own website, Rovio CMO Peter Versterbacka said.
It's an opportunity for Rovio to continue its expansion from mobile game maker to multimedia company. If it proves anywhere near as successful in media as it has been in games, however, it will also be playing on the turf of business partner Walt Disney Co., with which Rovio introduced its second "Star Wars"-branded Angry Birds game last week.
Mr. Vesterbacka will be keynoting Ad Age's Digital Conference in San Francisco on Oct. 15. He spoke with Ad Age at Advertising Week about ToonsTV, what Rovio can offer to advertisers and working with Disney.
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