Netflix Nabs U.S. Rights To ‘Thomas & Friends’ Children’s Animated Series

Nellie Andreeva

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Thomas & Friends is headed to streaming. Netflix will become the new U.S. TV home of the classic children’s animated series. The news was revealed during Mattel’s earnings calls Thursday.

“Today, we are pleased to announce that Thomas & Friends, the iconic children’s series, will be available on Netflix in the United States starting this March,” the company’s CEO Ynon Kreiz said.

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The series about the talking tank engine launched in 1984 and aired on pubcaster PBS until 2017 when Nickelodeon signed a wide-ranging deal to become Thomas & Friends‘ network home and take over as the brand’s exclusive US licensing agent in various merchandising categories. (Those rights are now reverting to Mattel.)

Nick Jr. carried Seasons 21. 22 and 23 of Thomas & Friends, along with specials. Beginning in March, Season 23, which had aired on Nick Jr. last year, will be available on Netflix, with the new Season 24 launching on the service later this year.

Additionally, Netflix will offer select library episodes of Thomas and Friends internationally in Asia (Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam), Canada, Europe (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland), Latin America and the United Kingdom. Specific content availability dates will vary by market. Mattel will also continue to work with broadcasters across the globe to air the current season of Thomas and Friends.

Netflix has been ramping up its kids animation slate as it faces stiff competition from the new dominant player in the space, Disney+ and its extensive Disney/Pixar animation library. At Netflix, Mattel also has Masters of the Universe: Revelation series.

The Thomas & Friends’ library, which includes the first 22 seasons of the show, is currently not available for streaming in the U.S.

Season 23 of Thomas & Friends follows the famed blue engine as he travels to Italy and Brazil, making new friends, exploring new cultures and unearthing new discoveries. The season consists of 20 11-minute episodes. It also includes three 22-minute specials, Digs & Discoveries: All Tracks Lead to Rome, Digs & Discoveries: Mines of Mystery and Steam Team to the Rescue.

Thomas the Tank Engine was introduced 75 years ago by Reverend W. Awdry as stories for his son. The stories became an award-winning global franchise which includes toys, consumer products, apps, books, location-based entertainment, and video and audio content. The animated television program Thomas & Friends consists of more than 500 episodes and specials and has been licensed to air in 180 territories and in 54 different languages.

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