When Rovio announced at the end of February that it would be premiering its Angry Bird Toons animated series in the middle of this month, the original plan was that the show would appear online via a specially-created “Angry Birds Toons” portal on Rovio’s website. But now that downloads for the game have passed the 1.7 billion figure, the company has had another brainwave: Why not just show the series on the game itself?
In a statement released by Rovio on Monday, the company’s chef executive Mikael Hed explained that “with over 1.7 billion downloads, we can reach a far wider and more engaged global audience than traditional distribution would allow” by making the cartoon available via the game itself. Those with the game or some variation thereupon, whether it’s Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Rio or Angry Birds Star Wars (Not to mention Bad Piggies), will have access to each episode as it goes live via a button on the game’s homepage. Each episode will be released on a weekly basis starting this Saturday, March 16, with the series consisting of 52 installments.
Rovio is hardly hoping that the show will appeal to the hardcore fanbase, however; Angry Birds Toons will also be carried on Comcast’s video on demand services from launch in the U.S., with Samsung’s connected televisions offering the series globally, and Roku’s set-top boxes reportedly adding the show very soon. Traditional television broadcasters have now also signed on to offer the series throughout the world, with networks in France, Germany, Norway, Finland, Australia, India, Israel, Indonesia, South Korea, Chile and Brazil all having agreed to give the catapult-friendly avian icons some screen time.
“Launching the channel, and partnering up with some of the best video-on-demand providers and TV networks, is an important milestone for us on our journey towards becoming a fully fledged entertainment powerhouse,” Hed boasted in his statement about the Toons series’ new distribution plans, apparently deciding to be entirely blunt about Rovio’s larger ambitions.
Then again, it’s not as if those larger ambitions were any kind of secret – or that the company wasn’t well on its way to achieving them; following the decision earlier this month to make the original Angry Birds game free in Apple’s App Store, the franchise appears to have regained a particular pop culture magnetism, which suggests that there’s interest and appeal in the idea of throwing birds against structures that goes beyond the core audience of people killing time on their iPhone while in line for something more important.
If Angry Birds Toons manages to expand that appeal to audiences who wouldn’t even consider video games – and moreso, manages to conquer that new audience in a similar way to its victories over the mobile market – then there really isn’t that much standing in Rovio’s way as it tries to become the Marvel Entertainment of mobile.