Acamar Films launches Amazon Alexa Skill for its hit preschool IP, Bing

Acamar Films is extending the reach of its multi-award-winning preschool series Bing with the launch of a new interactive Amazon Alexa Skill, Bing Time.

Developed in partnership with voice design agency Voxly Digital, Bing Time aims to bring together new script writing, high production values and technical innovation to deliver exclusive audio stories and play-along games, in addition to a selection of Bing music and songs.

The Skill has been designed to respond to the rhythm of a child’s day; encouraging movement and active play during the morning and afternoon, while offering calmer bedtime stories and soft music in the early evening.

Jodie Morris, chief content and audiences officer, Acamar Films, said: “We are thrilled to be able to launch Bing’s fantastic new Alexa Skill with Amazon’s Kids+, and can’t wait for Bingsters to start exploring our new digital innovation.

“As with everything we do, we have designed Bing Time to serve the needs of our treasured young audience, and – working alongside the wonderful team at Voxly Digital – I think we have succeeded in delivering something really quite exceptional; providing children with a brand new, immersive way to deepen their relationship with our stories and characters.”

In its 2020 research, Voxly Digital identified that families make up a big proportion of regular voice users in the UK, with two out of three of them actively using their voice-assistants together.

Ravi Lal, CEO of Voxly Digital said: “We wanted to design an experience which was fun and easy for the whole family, so we created a fluid and easily navigable voice app, which gives users what they want quickly: amazing Bing content.

“Behind the scenes, the team put a lot of thought into creating an incredible user experience. Working with Acamar Films, we’ve really pushed the capabilities of the Alexa platform; leveraging videos, animation and recorded audio to bring the world of Bing and his friends to life.”

The Bing Time Alexa Skill is a further extension of Acamar Films’ successful digital programme for their pre-school property, which also includes the mobile app Bing: Watch, Play, Learn. First launched in the UK in September 2019, the app has now exceeded 1 million downloads across the UK, Italy and Poland.

Bing Time will be exclusively launched via Amazon Kids+ from 21 July, with a general audience release scheduled for December 2021.

Kids’ audio platform Yoto raises $17m funding to fuel European and North American growth

The kids’ audio platform, Yoto – the London-based team behind the award-winning Yoto Player – has raised $17 million in a Series A funding to help facilitate its rapid growth across Europe and North America.

The investment was led by Acton Capital with participation from JamJar Investments, Global Founders Capital, Emerge Education, as well as MPL Ventures.

Controlled using physical cards to play children’s audio content, Yoto Player has been developed to give children full control over their listening with access to entertaining audio – spanning stories and music – designed to encourage learning and imaginative play.

Since launching the new Yoto Player in early 2020, the firm has experienced explosive growth, securing partnerships and content deals with trusted household names such as LEGO and Disney as well as licenses with Penguin Random House, Sony Music, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan and more.

Yoto’s extensive and expanding content library features some of the world’s greatest children’s content including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Gruffalo, The Snowman, and Planet Omar with LEGO Duplo, Frozen, Finding Nemo and many more household names to be released in the coming months.

“In times where kids are growing-up on screens, one of the most important skills they need is to be able to use technology consciously and with balance. Yoto’s proprietary audio platform puts children in full control of how and when they consume audio content,” said Fritz Oidtmann, managing partner at Acton Capital.

“What further convinced us to invest was Yoto’s unique approach to combining native content with carefully curated partnerships. We are very happy to support the team’s vision to make Yoto’s high-quality, kid-centered content available worldwide.”

Richard Reed, JamJar Investments and Innocent Drinks co-founder, said: As a dad of three, I know from first-hand experience what a lifesaver Yoto is – it fires up your kids’ imagination and creativity, so they play independently and safely.

“As an investor, Yoto is everything you could be looking for – a new entertainment format for kids that has limitless potential, loved by its buyers and adored by its users, led by a whip smart, mission-focused team.”

In an effort to offer audio that will inspire the next generation of independent creative minds, Yoto is also investing in content that promotes mindfulness, meditation and sleep. Recently, Yoto launched a series of sleep content cards with Lifescore & Abbey Road Studios.

Leading the industry in audio that inspires children to take creative play into their own hands, Yoto also offers music, audio-based activities, podcasts, radio and sound effects.

In addition, the Yoto Player has a ‘Make Your Own’ function enabling users to link to their favourite radio stations or podcasts and record their very own stories.

“We designed Yoto around our own kids and we’ve seen how amazing it is to give kids control of their own listening. I’ve seen how this really does help with creativity and imagination compared to screen-time and the research backs that up,” said Ben Drury, CEO and co-founder of Yoto.

“I’m thrilled with how far we’ve come and the amount of families we’re getting amazing feedback from, and this new investment from some of the best funds in the UK and Europe that share our vision allows us to continue to fuel the curiosity of this generation of young learners through audio.”

Terror from the Stars | Anderson Entertainment starts count down for Thunderbirds audio book series launch

Anderson Entertainment, the production company founded by Gerry Anderson – the man behind shows like Thunderbirds and Space: 1999 – has detailed a ‘significant new arrival in the audio market’, with the launch of Thunderbirds: Terror from the Stars.

An adaptation of John Theydon’s 1965 book Thunderbirds, the title is the first of Anderson Entertainment’s new series of audio versions of classic Gerry Anderson stories from the ’60s and ’70s. The series is now being made available thanks to a new licensing deal with ITV Studios.

A newly printed collector’s hardback version of the original book will be included with the boxed four-CD set. A download-only version will also be available.

This ‘significant new series’ will build on the vast popularity of Gerry Anderson’s creations and the appeal of audiobooks to a wide range of consumers – from commuters and homeworkers to joggers and gym users.

Anderson Entertainment has already enjoyed success in the audio entertainment market, notably through collaborations on Terrahawks and Captain Scarlet with production company, publisher and distributor Big Finish and its own all-new audio drama First Action Bureau. These audiobooks, however, are entirely Anderson Entertainment-devised and produced, although Big Finish will be handling distribution of the digital download-only versions.

This will also be the first time a dedicated series of audiobook and hardback packages has been produced across a wide range of Anderson titles – most of which have never before been adapted for audio.

In Thunderbirds: Terror from the Stars, the ex-con cockney chauffeur Parker and the stylish aristocrat Lady Penelope, originally voiced by David Graham and Sylvia Anderson, will be brought to life by voice actor and impressionist Jon Culshaw, star of Dead Ringers and Spitting Image, and actress Genevieve Gaunt, also known as Pansy Parkinson in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Wilhelmina ‘Willow’ Moreno Henstridge in the popular soap opera The Royals.

Jon Culshaw will also be voicing Jeff Tracy, the head of the Tracy family, and Genevieve Gaunt will play Grandma Tracy. The Tracy brothers, the evil Hood and the brilliant Brains will also be voiced by a talented cast that includes Wayne Forester, Justin T Lee, Joe Jameson and Anna Leong Brophy.

The Thunderbirds: Terror from the Stars audiobook and hardcover reissue of the original book will launch in May on the Gerry Anderson store ( The package has been available for pre-order from April 11th in a four-CD set that includes a behind-the-scenes documentary. 

Thunderbirds: Terror from the Stars will be followed by audio and hardback versions of other iconic Gerry Anderson creations, including Stingray, Joe 90, UFO and Space:1999. There will also be more Thunderbirds adaptations.

Jamie Anderson, MD of Anderson Entertainment, said: “The success of Anderson Entertainment’s audio-focused ventures, like the all-new audio drama First Action Bureau and Terrahawks, has underlined the strong appeal of audio formats. With material available in the form of popular 1960s and 1970s books and strong support from talented voice casts, we think this new venture will be eagerly embraced by a wide audience.”

Audio brand Shure taps Licensing Matters Global to take its name into home, fashion, tech and more

The leading audio brand, Shure, has tapped the London-based Licensing Matters Global to lead a worldwide licensing programme to take the popular name into categories including home, fashion, personal accessories, travel, and tech equipment.

The move is part of Shure’s vision to expand the reach of ‘world-renowned brand,’ through strategic licensing. The firm is looking to partner with licensees ready to innovate across designs within the equipment case, microphone stand, and even home decor sectors.

The Shure brand and microphones boast a 96 year history rooted in popular culture, having been attached to the likes of Elvis, John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr and more who have all used Shure microphones and equipment to deliver their messages.

“We are eager to help expand the legacy of this world-renowned brand, through strategic licensing. Our vision is to carry the Shure product excellence into to new categories, through premium products that inspire and empower consumers,” said Mark Edridge, chief operating officer, Licensing Matters Global.

LMG is seeking partner licensees with precision manufacturing capabilities to create modern and ingenious designs for the Shure brand. For example, equipment cases, microphone stands, t-shirts, home décor and more are ideal licensing fits for Shure.

Novel Entertainment launches month-long Story a Day initiative for Horrid Henry fans

Novel Entertainment is launching a month-long Story a Day initiative as part of its Hibernating with Henry campaign, one which will see a free audio story posted each day to Horrid Henry’s new website.

Starting Monday, February 1st, the first title available will be Horrid Henry and the Antiques Rogue Show, with additional stories including Horrid Henry Computer Whizz and Horrid Henry’s Favourite Day to follow.

The stories will go live at 4pm each day.

Story a Day is part of Novel Entertainment’s current Hibernating with Henry campaign, which is offering online resources and activities to keep children and families entertained and active during the current pandemic. Further activities will be announced in the coming weeks.

Lucinda Whiteley, creative director and co-founder of Novel Entertainment, said: “Henry’s been hard at work, thinking up ways to share his top hibernation tips. Of course, being Henry, he’s full of ideas, but first up we’re excited for Henry fans to be able to settle down after finishing their school day, with or without their grown-up, and listen to a different story every day throughout February.”

Novel Entertainment first launched Horrid Henry audio content in Spring 2020 and continues to expand the offering for fans. Most recently, Novel Entertainment launched a Horrid Henry’s Winter Wonderland audiobook compilation featuring Horrid Henry’s Christmas, Early Christmas Present and Winter Wish titles, and the ‘Super Scary One’, which includes Horrid Halloween, Horrid Henry and the Weird Werewolf and Horrid Henry’s Haunted House

These latest offerings are available on major platforms including Audible, Amazon and Spotify and join the initial six Totally Horrid Collections which debuted last year.

Novel Entertainment’s Horrid Henry audio content takes the form of dramatisations from its hit Horrid Henry TV series, featuring the show’s voice talent with additional narrative from Henry (voiced by Elizabeth Waterworth-Santo) and songs.

A Horrid Henry podcast also launched in 2020 which is titled Horrid Henry Unlocked and presented by radio host Sean Thorne, voice actor Lizzie Waterworth, and Henry himself. It offers fans insights into the inner workings of the world of Horrid Henry.

Since the start of the pandemic, Novel Entertainment has created over 100 pieces of fresh content for Horrid Henry, produced under the banner of Horrid Henry Unlocked which is designed to offer a familiar environment for fans to discover how the Horrid Henry family is responding to the current crisis.

As well as the Horrid Henry podcast and audio stories, material includes Horrid Homework in the form of activities, projects, challenges, puzzles, and bespoke videos including newly created songs, short videos and behind the scenes content and interviews.

Novel Entertainment also recently brought fans new long-form animated content including Horrid Henry’s Gross Day Out, a new 65’ action-adventure film which launched globally on Netflix in September 2020, alongside Horrid Henry’s Wild Weekend which debuted on Netflix in the UK last June and Nickelodeon UK in December 2020, and for Sub-Saharan Africa, Viacom/Nickelodeon has acquired the rights to Seasons one to four of Horrid Henry.

Season Five of Horrid Henry is currently airing on Netflix in the UK, and also on Nickelodeon and Nicktoons UK and Ireland.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid joins kids’ audio platform Yoto Player

Yoto, the team behind the award-winning audio platform for children, Yoto Player, has struck up a partnership with the internationally best-selling children’s book series Diary of A Wimpy Kid to bring three popular stories to the system.

Diary of a Wimpy Kids, Diary of a wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw will now be available on the Yoto Player in the form of Yoto Cards. The stories will each help children learn about important themes such a friendship, fitting in, and standing up for yourself.

The new stories will also encourage kids to enhance their imagination through screen-free audiotime.

The Yoto Player is controlled using physical cards that are inserted into the Player which plays audio content. Additionally, Yoto’s audio cards have the ability to play content through the app by simply tapping the card to the back of a compatible smartphone. The free-to-download Yoto smartphone app also contains a selection of free content available to all, and allows families to play their library of audio through other Bluetooth speakers.

“Providing kids with unique ways to interact with leading children’s stories like Diary of a Wimpy Kid is important to us,” said Ben Drury, CEO and co-founder of Yoto. “Yoto is built to help children take learning and creative play into their own hands, and partnering with The Diary of a Wimpy Kid helps us equip kids with the tools they need to learn and let their imagination wander.”

Vanessa Jedrej, global brand manager, Wimpy Kid Inc, added: “We’re really glad to partner with Yoto to extend our Wimpy Kid audio experience to young readers. Bringing entertainment and fun to kids in an accessible way is at the nerve-center of both our organisations and we hope our partnership will bring hours of laugh-out-loud listening to new audiences of kids.”

The The Diary of a Wimpy Kid cards are available now from £8.99 from and

Hasbro launches Peppa Pig audio stories across Amazon Prime, Apple Music, and Spotify

Hasbro has revealed its plans to release a series of new Peppa Pig audio stories across multiple digital streaming platforms around the world, including on Amazon Prime, Apple Music, and Spotify from today (Monday, November 23rd) onwards, with plans for more to come.

Marking a new first for Peppa Pig, the ten audio stories will be narrated by the familiar voice of John Sparkes and will be based on some of the most popular stories from the animated TV series. They will be available in English language only and will launch in batches of two every two weeks.

Titles under the portfolio of audio stories include George’s New Dinosaur, Shake, Rattle & Bang, Mr Bull’s New Road, Whistling, Nursery Rhymes, Secret Club, Pirate Treasure, Grandpa Pig’s Greenhouse, Noisy Night, and Bedtime Story.

 “We want to be wherever our fans are with great content and our move into audio-first content reflects that,” said eOne’s Esra Cafer, SVP global brand management.

“What we’re really excited about is just how good these stories are. They capture all the values, storytelling and humour of our brilliant show to give our listeners a wonderfully immersive audio story experience – we can’t wait for Peppa fans to discover them.”

 The launch will be supported by an extensive marketing campaign across social and digital media including the brand’s own high reach digital channels.

This latest deal follows the huge success of the brand’s first digital music album release, Peppa Pig: My First Album, in July 2019 which has hit more than 24 million streams worldwide and inspired a licensing range for teens in Urban Outfitters this autumn in the US.

LEGO and PAW Patrol launch new audio content across Spotify, Amazon Music and more

LEGO is launching a library of new audio content across the biggest music and audio streaming platforms of today, including Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, Apple music, and Deezer.

The new content will take the form of a series of audio plays set within LEGO’s worlds of LEGO Ninjago, LEGO Friends, and LEGO City. Each will give children the chance to listen to exciting new adventures based on the popular toy lines.

The LEGO content will be joined by a series of audio plays based on the hit PAW Patrol series.

The audio plays are aimed at children aged four to ten and allow the listener to enjoy the stories of the TV-episodes with the original voices, but with the added benefit of a narrator guiding the child through each scene.

‘The audio plays are a great incentive to encourage parents to have the headphones at the ready to reduce screen time but still keep the family entertained,’ read a statement from the firm behind the development of the audio plays, Universum Film, GmbH.

‘The captivating audio plays follow the missions of PAW Patrol six heroic puppies and their leader Ryder, the colourful adventures in Heartlake City with LEGO Friends, the exciting world of LEGO Ninjago, and the modern metropolis of LEGO City; perfect for school runs, play dates, family trips and bedtime.’

The launch arrives following studies that, according to Universum, reveal that comprehension, vocabulary, reading speed, and motivation are all positively impacted by audio content.