Can you guess the Top 3 most popular kids shows on Netflix in 2023?


According to What’s on Netflix data, it’s CoComelon, Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol. These shows are all decades-old, though. So, what should you consider when you develop and launch a new kids show these days?

Niall Watters, CEO of Carlichauns Entertainment, has just done that, so I had a chat with him about the launch of Carlichauns which is a brand-new, computer-generated animated series aiming to take centuries of Irish folklore to a new global digital audience. Aimed at four-to seven-year-olds, the series will follow a group of Carlingford leprechauns, or Carlichauns, as they embark on adventures to grant wishes to children all over the world.


Local Story with Global Appeal

The creation of the Carlichauns was born out of Ireland’s Last Leprechaun Whisperer Kevin Woods – from the Medieval town of Carlingford – and Tim Patterson – ex BBC, Disney, and Nickelodeon.

Kevin Woods has been telling the story of the Carlingford Leprechauns for the last 36 years and has appeared on numerous international radio and TV stations including RTE, ITV, CNN. He is also the subject of million viewed YouTube videos, and each year close to 10,000 people from around the world visit his cavern and folklore park to hear the stories of the Carlingford Leprechauns.

Tim Patterson took this strong foundation and pitched the opportunity to modernise an element of Irish folklore, creating a new leprechaun brand called “Carlichauns”, one which is kids and family friendly. “We created a narrative which is a local story with global appeal.”, says Niall Watters.

So, a key element of the creative process and the development of the show was the fact that Kevin Woods has spent 36 years building the Last Leprechauns brand, and Tim Patterson has spent 42 years in the TV industry where over a 20-year period he specialised in kids’ content specifically in research and editorial.


Digital-First Strategy

To bring their idea to life, Tim Patterson and Kevin Woods worked together on character and narrative development, and commissioned Fudge Animation to bring their characters, the Kingdom and Carlingford to life with beautiful visuals. They worked as a wider team to finesse the characters and narrative, and worked closely with Fudge to make sure that the character and landscape designs were aligned with the premise of the show.

However, developing a new show is never smooth sailing and given the well documented challenges within the industry with regards to financing or getting your IP financed, they have been adopting a digital first strategy kicking off with an Carlichauns Adventure Trail app launch St. Patrick’s Day 2024. This built awareness early and enabled them to greenlight the Carlichauns series pilot which will run in parallel with the digital roll out strategy.

“As a start-up, going through investment rounds, our operation is lean, agile and target driven. Momentum is key when building a brand, and we’re a team that executes at pace. We make every Euro work for us.”, states Niall.

By adapting a digital first strategy they also had audience feedback with regards to positive character association, where through an immersive app, the characters were brought to life in augmented reality and the target audience could engage with them.


Compelling Storytelling with Positive Messaging & Values

The brand exhibits a number of key themes, including teamwork (they are team of Carlichauns with a mission to grant the wish of the day), hope (there’s hope in wishful thinking), sustainability and eco-friendliness at the heart of the Carlichaun Kingdom, as well as humour – a key ingredient in making life’s adventures fun.

The series is fundamentally entertainment driven. “Any educational content will be education with a very small e, and would relate to life lessons, and a nod to the sustainability of the kingdom.”, so Niall Watters. The educational message is not front and central, but subtle. The key message is fun and funny, through entertaining adventures.



Niall, Kevin, and Tim are building a global kids and family entertainment brand that comprises a number of key pillars including an animation series, live action short form, an augmented reality app, a digital wish centre, gaming, and an ecommerce store.

“We’re standing on the shoulders of a brand that has existed for hundreds of years. Having an omni-channel digital first approach, we are rapidly building our community and global awareness.”, says Niall Watter.

The app launched already, and the short form content will be published in May. The series pilot has been greenlit and they’re already talking to licensing and merchandising agencies. “We’re moving at a phenomenal pace, and we’re very excited about what the future will hold for Carlichauns Entertainment.”, continues Niall.

The Carlichauns Adventure Trail app – which is a location-based experience whereby kids and families can interact with the Carlichauns – launched in March in 5 locations across Ireland. The app has already over 2k downloads, 4.9/5 experience rating, 21+ nationalities took part, and it was no.1 app in the top 10 kids and family apps in Ireland.

Following that success, the Adventure Trail will launch across international locations including Los Angeles in May, and Dubai in October. “Our Adventure Trail app, as well as being lots of fun, it’s about redefining screentime, and redefining family time by encouraging kids to go outside and exercise.”, explains Niall Watters.


Key Success Factors

All in all, we can see that in an interconnected world, where kids grow up watching content on YouTube from all over the world, kids shows with a local story but global appeal often find themselves resonating with audiences worldwide. Whether it’s cultural nuances, relatable characters, or universal themes, shows that incorporate these elements captivate young viewers across borders, fostering a sense of connection and understanding.

Of course, at the heart of every great TV show lies compelling storytelling infused with positive messaging and values. From promoting empathy and kindness to celebrating diversity and inclusion, these shows inspire young minds, imparting valuable life lessons in an engaging and memorable way. If the story is based on an already popular story/brand, even better.

Furthermore, an omni-channel approach ensures that kids shows are accessible across multiple platforms and formats, from traditional broadcast television to streaming services, mobile apps, and social media. This multi-faceted approach maximises reach and engagement, allowing young viewers to connect with their favourite shows anytime, anywhere. The feedback-loop they used with the app is also an important success factor.

A digital-first strategy is essential to the success of modern kids shows. Shows that are leveraging the power of digital platforms, streaming services, and online communities, reach young audiences where they are most active, offering on-demand access and interactive experiences that engage and entertain.

The cherry on top is, of course, a real-life event, such as the Carlichauns Adventure Trail. As Ellen Doherty, Chief Creative Officer at Fred Rogers Productions, who I interviewed last year put it: “Engaging kids online is one thing, but for Fred Rogers Productions, real-life events where kids can meet the characters and interact with them is key.”

If you want to see more brand-new kids shows and learn about key success factors, then join us at MIPJUNIOR in October.

About Author

Sandra Lehner is a TV Futurist and the MD of Suncatcher Social, based in Lisbon. She is a frequent contributor to MIPBlog, and speaks regularly at MIPCOM. Newsletter: Website: LinkedIn:

Comments are closed.