‘CoComelon’ grows to include speaking characters, live tour

This image released by Netflix shows characters, from left, Bingo, YoYo, JJ and TomTom from “CoComelon." (Netflix via AP)

This image released by Netflix shows characters, from left, Bingo, YoYo, JJ and TomTom from “CoComelon." (Netflix via AP)

Alicia Rancilio
The Associated Press 

One of Netflix’s most popular children’s series, “CoComelon,” a giggly, musical series with repetitive lyrics, dropped a new special on Monday., providing many parents, like Arinze Odira, of Windsor, Ontario, a reprieve.

“I had a lot of stuff I wanted to do and my my wife was sleeping,” explained Odira, whose daughter, Keine, is 13 months. “I put ‘CoComelon’ on and she was there for almost three hours. I had the time to do everything I wanted to do.”

Odira was so thankful, he took to Twitter to share his thanks: “To the producers of ‘CoComelon,’ I owe you guys a bottle of whisky. Thank you for helping millions of parents around the world.”

It may not be as flashy or as high-profile as Netflix’s adult programming, such as “Bridgerton” or “The Crown,” but “CoComelon” is an important show for the streaming service. Besides the U.S., it’s hit the top 10 in countries including the UK, Philippines, Canada and South Africa.

“CoComelon” and Netflix also plan to go big in 2023 by releasing a new series called, “CoComelon Lane” where the characters speak. Episodes will be set up by main character JJ, a toddler with a tiny curl of hair on the top of his head and two teeth.

“He talks directly to camera, so he talks to the kid at home. It really feels like he’s inviting you into a playdate with him and his friends. He’s asking you to come with him on whatever his journey of the day is,” said Heather Tilert, Netflix’s preschool content executive, who says “CoComelon Lane” is targeted for children a little bit older.

“Cocomelon is really hoping to continue with kids who have fallen in love with JJ and friends already and kind of move with them through their development. So, ‘CoComelon Lane’ we see as really kind of for 3 to 5-years-olds.”

The new hourlong special released this week, called “Fun with Family and Friends,” consists of 20 new musical animated shorts. It’s the first “CoComelon” content exclusively available on Netflix. They’ve upped their music game too, licensing songs parents will recognize including “Twist and Shout” and “Stand by Me,” but touching on skills for reaching pre-school milestones including colors, shapes, movement and even emotions.

“CoComelon” was originally created in 2005 by Jay Jeon, a father in California who had the idea to use songs to teach his own two kids. He began uploading the videos to YouTube. Those videos eventually grew to gain billions of views and “CoComelon” was acquired by Moonbug Entertainment in 2020.

It’s expanded the franchise with spin-offs, a podcast on Spotify and a new live tour called “ CoComelon Live! ” kicking off Sept. 16 in Baltimore.

Tapping into exactly what makes “CoComelon” so popular with kids is “the big question,” said Andy Yeatmen, Moonbug’s managing director of Americas, but he thinks it is due in large part to putting the child first rather than going over kids’ heads to entertain parents.

 “Everything is very thoughtful about being from a preschooler’s point of view. So, not what an adult would think about as important to a 3-year-old, but what a 3-year-old would think is important.”