Children’s audio system Yoto is adding a new licence to its portfolio of over 900 story, music, activity and sleep soundscape cards: Thomas & Friends. Pulling into the Yoto platform for the first time today (16 March), the licensed original stories mark Yoto’s first partnership with Mattel, while six of the cards come with a new interactive quiz feature.
LicensingSource.net sits down with Rebecca Oku, Yoto’s head of UK content licensing, to find out more.
What can kids (and parents) expect from the new Thomas & Friends collection?
Our Thomas & Friends Steam Team Collection is a six-card pack, with one story card for each favourite Steam Team engine. And excitingly, it’s the first time we’ve added a bonus feature where each card ends with an interactive quiz, allowing children to test their knowledge by answering fun questions about the stories and characters they’ve just met on their audio adventure. The listener pushes the button on the Yoto Player to hear the answer to the question and the icon on the pixel display changes to match the audio. It really enhances the storytelling and experience and we can’t wait to see what our customers think. We also have Thomas & Friends Fairy Tales – a single card featuring Thomas and his friends on Sodor in 10 reimagined fairy tales. And that’s not all, there will be more Thomas & Friends in the coming months as we embark on the start of what we’re sure will be a very successful partnership with Mattel.
What trends do you think are relevant in children’s content for 2023 and beyond? Are you seeing parental demand for a particular entertainment or publishing IP, or a key subject area?
Our customers are very engaged and active and regularly ask for different content streams, from heritage brands and children’s classics that parents remember and love from their own childhood to emerging TV properties, gaming and toy brands. We stay abreast of what children love through regular interaction with our community, market research and actually, the wider Yoto staff are a great resource as so many of them are parents. Our team get bombarded with requests (in a good way) from eager children far and wide, which keeps us on our toes.
We now have over 900 cards available. These range from all-time classics like The Secret Garden to more modern character-led stories like Peppa Pig and PAW Patrol. We’ve also got a whole host of brilliant kid-friendly Music cards, fun Activity cards to encourage healthy movement and exercise, incredible information-rich Education packs that align with the market’s curriculums and topics as well as our very popular Soundscapes that kids around the world are playing to, (or falling asleep to!) every day.
Yoto has experienced rapid growth since it launched in 2020. Why do you think this is?
The key to our success is that children are at the heart of everything we do. Yoto Players allow kids to be in control of what they listen to and when, and of course parents are looking for entertainment and activities that aren’t screen focused so that keeps them happy too. But really, it’s because we have a real connection with Yoto families in their everyday lives, either through our brilliant micro-podcast Yoto Daily, our Make Your Own Cards, which can bring together distant family and friends, or through our curated Yoto Radio station for kids to enjoy all day and night. We truly believe that audio has a special place at the heart of family life and we’re proud to be providing the soundtrack to entire childhoods.
In what ways are you different from your competitors?
We are part of a burgeoning audio market for children, but where Yoto differs from other audio platforms is the sheer breadth of our content. We have soundscapes and songs that are great for newborns, right the way through to content that will have a 12-year-old jumping for joy, like the new Minecraft: The Island card. A child’s Yoto library grows as they do. Our Yoto Cards are also the perfect format for audio – they display the content contained on the card in a simple, elegant way, but also allow us to offer our customers great value as we price our content according to run time. Beyond our content, the Yoto Player itself is unique in the market because of its pixel display, which allows us to illustrate content for young listeners, and we pride ourselves on offering the best straight-out-of-the-box value of any kids’ audio player with a free daily podcast, sleep sounds, radio and loads more.
Can you tell us about your new partnership with Moshi, the kids’ mindfulness app?
We are delighted to be partnering with Moshi, who are creating innovative, interactive storytelling with a focus on wellbeing. There are many similarities between our brands and we have just launched two new Moshi cards in February, Friends Forever and Magical Stories, which are both calming and relaxing – the kind of content that we know our customers are weaving into their bedtime routine with our Yoto Player. There was a lot of rejoicing in our Yoto Community social pages the day we announced Moshi was going to be available in the Yoto library.
Finally, can you give us any insight into Yoto’s licensing strategy going forward?
The Yoto library has grown rapidly in the past two years, with an expansive Disney catalogue and with preschool hits Peppa Pig and PAW Patrol joining the Yoto family last year. Our English language content is transatlantic and our US team have many exciting launches coming in 2023, including the wonderful Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood. That said, there is always room for new additions to the licensed portfolio across traditional publisher audiobooks and media brands. We’re building a portfolio that’s inspiring, diverse and inclusive and that represents the best of the best in children’s audio content.