Kartoon Studios, Inc. Blog

Genius Brands CEO Annual Letter 2021

April 6, 2022

Dear Genius Brands Shareholders,

Today we released our 10K Annual Report for 2021, with record revenues.

The year had 5 important drivers that will power the course of the company into 2022 and beyond:



  1. During 2021, the company achieved year-over-year revenue growth of 217% to $7.9 million. In addition, WOW! achieved revenue of USD $64.2 million in 2021.*
  2. During 2021, the company announced 2 strategic acquisitions (WOW! Unlimited Media and AMEBA), each of which are cash flow positive, accretive, and catalysts to accelerate immediate growth, further supported by our strategic investment in YFE Entertainment.
  3. During 2021, Kartoon Channel!, our flagship streaming platform, experienced continuous monthly growth in downloads, viewership, advertisers, and revenues.  It is now firmly established as a premiere viewing destination for kids and families, with viewer ratings regularly placing us ahead of our major competitors, (below). In addition, Kartoon Channel Kidaverse, our upcoming, commercial free, companion subscription  product, is on track to launch in the U.S. on April 15 at $3.99/month. 
  4. Existing, licensed, and acquired episodes, have increased to greater than 20,000 episodes of quality children’s entertainment.
  5. During 2021, our balance sheet remained strong as Genius finished the year with over $116 million in net cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities.

We expect 2022 to be a banner year both operationally, and financially.

No less important than the above, Genius Brands is on the strongest possible footing to execute substantial transactions in the near future. 



As stated above, our strategic acquisitions are all profitable businesses, and cash generators for the company.  Along with our strategic investment in  YFE, each of these businesses are synergistic with one another, and are all catalysts for rapid growth. They have bolstered our content catalogue, expanded our production capabilities, and are now providing Kartoon Channel! a worldwide footprint in distribution, currently in 67 territories, and growing.

  • Announced acquisition of Canada’s WOW! UNLIMITED MEDIA INC. (WOW!), a company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSXV:WOW), and its associated companies, MAINFRAME ANIMATION and FREDERATOR CHANNEL.
  • We expect to announce closing of the acquisition imminently, and in doing so, create a global animation and digital media powerhouse.
  • WOW’s Mainframe Studios division is one of the 2 largest subcontract producers of animation in the world, working for Netflix, Hulu, Universal, Peacock, Sony, Mattel, and Spin Master, among others.  
  • WOW’s Frederator Channel has over 2,500 content providers and is the largest animation focused, Multi-Channel Network (MCN) in the world, with over 1 billion views on YouTube per month.  We see enormous synergies with the absorption of Frederator Channel, and integration into Genius and our distribution channels. 
  • WOW! is experiencing rapid revenue growth and increased profitability, with significant contract bookings for 2022, as well as into 2023 and 2024.
  • Strategic investment giving Genius control over Your Family Entertainment, the largest content company/children’s broadcaster in Europe.
  • Listed on Frankfurt Exchange (FRA: RTV)  
  • Controls over 3,500 animated episodes and feature films which will be absorbed into the Genius catalog.
  • Distribution through its streaming and linear kid’s channels across 100 countries, all in the process of being rebranded into Kartoon Channel Worldwide. 
  • Reaches more than 50 million households 
  • Owned and operated free-to-air, pay TV and digital subscription channels in Germany, Austria & Switzerland, as well as platformed across Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. 
  • Substantial cash now in the company to be deployed to fuel further growth.
  • Superior management team led by CEO, Stefan Piech, and COO, Bernd Wendeln.
  • Ameba was the first independent SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand) platform for kids
  • Over 13,000 episodes of children’s content under license, which will now become part of the upcoming Kartoon Channel Kidaverse.
  • Ameba’s proprietary technology will be the backbone of the upcoming Kartoon Channel Kidaverse.
  • Ameba, the existing subscription channel, @$3.99/month will be rebranded with its current customer base into the upcoming Kartoon Channel Kidaverse.

During 2021, Key metrics were significantly up:

  • Total Application Installs: UP 1381%
  • Unique Users: UP 51%
  • Hours Watched: UP 23%
  • Video Plays: UP 90%
  • Advertising Impressions: UP 102%
  • Average CPM: UP 83%
  • Revenue: UP 282%
  • Unique Advertisers: UP 130%
  • Kartoon Channel! is now being carried on virtually every major platform, including Apple iOS, Apple TV, Android TV, Android Mobile, Amazon Prime, Amazon Fire, Roku, Tubi, YouTube, Comcast, Cox, Samsung Smart TV, LG Smart TV, Pluto TV, and more…even on Jet Blue!!
USER RATINGS continue to place Kartoon Channel! among the top ranked kids’ content apps in both the Apple and Google Play app stores, frequently appearing #1 ahead of Disney+, Netflix, YouTube Kids, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network.
Kartoon Channel! has acquired and/or licensed some of the top children’s content, characters, and  programs in the world featuring  Scooby Doo, Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, Transformers, Yu Gi O, Pound Puppies,  Wubbulous World of Dr. Seusss, Minecraft, Roblox, Paddington Bear, Gummy Bears, Casper The Friendly Ghost, Donkey Kong Country, and Rescue Heroes, among thousands of episodes for children to watch…..all carefully curated to be positive, responsible, and non-violent content.

Launch of the new Kartoon Channel! Worldwide programming block, “Kartoon Genius,” across Latin America and the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, reaching 67 countries and growing.  Further expansion in the Asia Pacific region with the launch on Samsung TV Plus in Australia. 




Many of the initiatives we worked on in 2021, will begin to appear in 2022.  One of those, which we feel will be materially transformational, is the Kartoon Channel Kidaverse. For those who wonder how the coming metaverse will translate into a safe and positive entertainment experience for kids, look no further. The ad free channel will debut on April 15th, with over 20,000 half hour episodes under license.  

Though a significant share of our viewership has asked for a channel without ads, the Kartoon Channel Kidaverse was created to not just be an ad free companion to Kartoon Channel!, but much more. The varied features of the Kidaverse will roll out over the coming months.


  • KARTOON CHANNEL KIDAVERSE, is a commercial free, subscription spinoff of Kartoon Channel! at $3.99/month.  
  • It is set to launch APRIL 15!
  • Anchored by technology from Ameba TV, our recently acquired children’s video streaming service that brings a first-in-class technology platform.
  • Will include all the popular programs of Kartoon Channel! plus content from WOW!, YFE and Ameba.  We expect to offer over 20,000 episodes of quality, responsible, children’s content, which we believe makes it the largest content catalog of children’s content on any service in the world.


  • Kartoon Channel Kidaverse will be a breakthrough cutting edge package rolling out over the coming months including:
    • Avatars 
    • Emojis 
    • Games
    • Kidaverse VR goggles
    • Immersive content and NFTs for kids (‘KFT’s)
    • Collectable digital cards based on many of the channel’s popular characters, (including Stan Lee Universe)
    • Digital currency for kids (KidaBuck$)
    • Child-safe messaging (“Messies”) 
    • Podcasts, music, and more.
    • Exclusive content


Genius continues to invest in both 1st tier entertainment content, and 1st tier human capital.

It is impossible to talk about content without also talking about the human capital that creates it, produces it, programs it, and then brings it to market.  We have continued to invest in finding the best in class people in 2021, because we know that is how we are going to build out Genius Brands.

Great content takes time to develop, time to produce, and time to build an audience. When content has finally built its audience, we know that strong kids’ animation brands often create large amounts of revenue.  

Animation is not only timeless. It is an asset that grows in value over time.

When I was an apprentice writer at Hanna Barbera Studios, my boss Joe Barbera had years earlier created the Flintstones.  Years before that, he and his partner Bill Hanna, had created Tom & Jerry.  Who would have imagined that decades later, kids around the world would still be discovering Tom & Jerry every day, and kids would still be watching the Flintstones and consuming Flintstone vitamins and Fruity Pebble breakfast cereals.  

Joe wanted me to write on Scooby Doo and Smurfs, but I asked if I could work on Flintstones because it was already a hit that I knew well and had grown up on. He told me to be patient. “Scooby and the Smurfs would become hits as well,” he said.  He was right, and it was a lesson I never forgot.

  1. Animated children’s content is timeless. 
  2. Animated children’s  content is international. 
  3. Animated children’s content spawns consumer products.  

These 3 attributes make animation an extraordinary asset class. 

We have 5 tentpoles of original content today. They have been carefully curated by a team of programmers largely coming from the Walt Disney Company and elsewhere that are responsible for some of the biggest children’s hits ever, and because we place such a high premium on human capital and creativity, I want to shine a flashlight on some of these extraordinary people, those who have been with us, as well as those who have joined us in 2021. They are the leadership of the development, production, programming, and marketing of the shows and channels we are making, as we grow them in the coming years into businesses worldwide.

David Neuman - Our Chief Content Officer, was President of Walt Disney Television.

Margaret Loesch - Our Executive Chairwoman of Kartoon Channel!, was President of Marvel Entertainment, President of Jim Henson Television,
and President of Fox Kids.

Kerry Phelan - Our Chief Brand Officer came to us from consumer product licensing of Star Wars for Lucasfilm, then running consumer product licensing for Pixar and then DreamWorks, and creating untold billions of value and sales of consumer products for brands in addition to Star Wars, including Pixar’s Cars, and DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and Shrek.

Mike Maliani - Chief Creative Officer and Multi Emmy winning Director with a long pedigree including Warner Brothers, Hanna Barbera, DIC, and Walt Disney.

Steven Banks - an extraordinary creator and imagination, who was head writer of Sponge Bob SquarePants, and this year he is leading a team writing SHAQ’S GARAGE, and the scripts are no less brilliant.  

Michael Uslan - Executive Producer of Batman, and comic book genius in his own right, is leading the development of STAN LEE UNIVERSE, with original art from Greg Hildebrand (iconic creator of the legendary Star Wars and Lord of the Rings posters).  

In 2021, the company has continued to seek out the most accomplished executives and creatives in the children’s entertainment industry with pedigrees from the Walt Disney Company, Marvel, Warner Brothers, and Netflix. 

Joining this group this year are:

 Paul Robinson

President of Kartoon Channel! Worldwide, and responsible for the global rollout of Kartoon Channel! outside the United States.  Based in London, Paul was previously Managing Director of Disney Channel Worldwide and Senior VP of Walt Disney Television International. Paul works intimately with Jon Ollwerther, President of Kartoon Channel! in the U.S., as they are unifying a global product. 

Todd Steinman 

Chief Revenue Officer of the Kartoon Channel Kidaverse.

Todd, most recently served as Vice President in the Direct to Consumer and International division at The Walt Disney Company, which included Disney+ during its launch. Todd created solutions to leverage the Walt Disney Company’s portfolio of linear and digital brands, including DISNEY, HULU, ESPN, ABC, FREEFORM, FX, and NAT GEO, while setting strategy for ad sales and revenue teams.  Prior to that, at NBC Universal he negotiated multi-million-dollar annual media deals with Google/YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Disney, Twitter, Snapchat, Spotify, and others, while managing an annual budget north of $1 billion.  

 Cindy Kelly

Head of Advertising Sales & Co-Chief Revenue Officer for Kartoon Channel!, Cindy brings extensive children’s media sales experience at Cartoon Network. She also served as Broadcast Account Supervisor at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising in NYC, overseeing media strategy for blue chip accounts, including, Mattel Toys, Campbell’s Soup and Paramount Pictures.

Today in 2022, as we connect the dots of the leadership of our company, we see a team of winners who have succeeded again and again, in creating billions and billions of dollars of value and hits. They are coming from the Walt Disney Company, Pixar, Netflix, DreamWorks, and Hasbro Toys, amongst other powerful IP ‘hit factories.’ This is a team like ‘Murderers Row’ of the 1927 Yankees.  When you put them all together with their combined talents and history, with a little bit of patience, the likelihood is that something big is going to come forth.


Our original content is now focused on 6 brands.  They represent a diverse portfolio of kid’s content, and we are excited to develop, produce, and bring them forth into the marketplace.


Executive Produced by and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  • 11 million hours of Superhero Kindergarten have been watched so far on Kartoon Channel! and no sign of slowing down.
  • There have been 83.1 million views on YouTube 
  • Superhero Kindergarten recently launched in China on Alibaba Group’s (NYSE:BABA) video streaming platform, Youku, the largest kids platform in China. 
  • Being rolled out on Kartoon Channel! platforms worldwide.
2. SHAQ’S GARAGE in production with Executive Producer and series star, Shaquille O’Neal.
  • The show concept is inspired by Shaq’s real life love of cars combined with his desire to inspire kids to respect differences, work together, and give back to their communities. 
  • There will be a national marketing campaign at launch, and the show will be heavily promoted to Shaq’s 57+ million followers on his social channels.
  • With Mattel’s ‘HOT WHEELS’ and Pixar’s ‘CARS’ as multi-billion dollar businesses, we are enthusiastic about SHAQ’S GARAGE and its ability to garner viewing share, as well as retail shelf space in this critical and coveted play category for kids.

3. STAN LEE WAS THE SINGLE MOST SUCCESSFUL CREATOR IN HOLLYWOOD (Spiderman, Iron Man, X Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Thor, Incredible Hulk, Captain America, the Fantastic Four)…in fact, 14 of the top 40 box office films of all time, including the #1 box office film of all time, AVENGERS: ENDGAME, were created/co-created by this one man. His creations gave rise to tens of billions of dollars of box office and consumer products. 

Genius Brands, through its controlling interest in Stan Lee Universe, controls the rights to the name, the likeness, the signature, and the consumer product licensing to the iconic Stan Lee, and a package of up to 7 properties each year from his post Marvel creations.

  • STAN LEE UNIVERSE is expected to rollout in 2022 concurrent with the celebration of his 100th birthday on Dec. 28, 2022, and a broad Stan Lee Centennial licensing program.
  • STAN LEE UNIVERSE is being developed by producing giant, friend and collaborator of Stan Lee, MICHAEL USLAN (Executive Producer of Batman) and with original art from GREG HILDEBRAND (iconic creator of the legendary Star Wars and Lord of the Rings posters). 
4. RAINBOW RANGERS is now sold to Netflix, HBO Max, Paramount+, NICK LatAm, and broadcasters around the world, as well as KARTOON CHANNEL! in the U.S. Season 3 is well along in production and will debut exclusively on the KARTOON CHANNEL KIDAVERSE.
5. KC Pop Quiz is a daily live game show for kids which is a mixture of Jeopardy! and HQ Trivia.  It is hosted by Casey Simpson, a teen influencer and Nickelodeon star with over 20 million followers.  It is a ‘Kartoon Channel! Exclusive’ with a new package of episodes to debut exclusively on the upcoming Kidaverse. 
6. LLAMA LLAMA is based on the classic children’s series of books by Anna Dewdney, and voiced by Jennifer Garner, the series is broadcast on Netflix, Kartoon Channel!, and broadcasters worldwide.

BEACON MEDIA GROUP is the fresh new branding of Chizcomm/ Beacon.  Led by Donna McNeil in Toronto and Kathleen Campesino in New York, the leadership team has been realigned  for accelerated growth. We are already seeing the benefits of the changes and new organization as we integrate the marketing and media buying activities of the largest children’s media buyer in North America. Stay Tuned!

Balance Sheet

  • Genius Brands finished 2021 with over $ 116 million in net cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities.
  • The company continues to carefully manage its expenses and maintains a pristine balance sheet.


The team at Genius Brands is focused on building a first-class organization of enduring value on the pillars of outstanding children’s content.

We will continue to invest in state-of-the-art, in-house production, global distribution on cutting edge platforms, as well as premier advertising and merchandising capabilities. No less important will be to invest in top tier human capital. I appreciate the tremendous support of our shareholders through tumultuous times, as we remain laser focused on creating enduring value and true to our branding of making responsible positive value content for children.

We are well on our way to achieving our goal of becoming the leading provider of quality and responsible children’s entertainment in the world today, and for generations to come.

As stated earlier, we expect 2022 to be a banner year, both operationally and financially, and are positioned for important transactions in the near future.

Andy Heyward
Chairman & CEO
Genius Brands International, Inc.
*Based on unaudited financial results of WOW! Unlimited Media for the year-ended December 31, 2021. Conversion of CAD to USD based on the exchange rate as of April 4, 2022. WOW’s audited financials are expected to be completed by the end of April 2022, in accordance with IFRS.

Forward Looking Statements:  Certain statements in this letter constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the federal securities laws. Words such as "may," "might," "will," "should," "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "continue," "predict," "forecast," "project," "plan," "intend" or similar expressions, or statements regarding intent, belief, or current expectations, are forward-looking statements. While the Company believes these forward-looking statements are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on any such forward-looking statements, which are based on information available to us on the date of this letter. These forward looking statements are based upon current estimates and assumptions and are subject to various risks and uncertainties, including without limitation, our ability to generate revenue or achieve profitability; our ability to obtain additional financing on acceptable terms, if at all; the potential issuance of a significant number of shares, which will dilute our equity holders; fluctuations in the results of our operations from period to period; general economic and financial conditions; our ability to anticipate changes in popular culture, media and movies, fashion and technology; competitive pressure from other distributors of content and within the retail market; our reliance on and relationships with third-party production and animation studios; our ability to market and advertise our products; our reliance on third-parties to promote our products; our ability to keep pace with technological advances; our ability to protect our intellectual property and those other risk factors set forth in the “Risk Factors” section of the Company’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and in the Company's subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"). Thus, actual results could be materially different. The Company expressly disclaims any obligation to update or alter statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

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