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Development: NBCUniversal unveils streaming service; The Dragon Prince returns; UglyDolls expands

By Benjamin Bullard
The Good Place via official website 2019

Will we soon be getting a different place to stream The Good Place? NBCUniversal revealed today that it’s preparing to launch a new streaming platform, with the scant early details indicating it’ll be free to people who already pay for cable, and available via subscription for people who don’t.

NBCUniversal says the new platform’s free tier — the one available to cable subscribers — will be ad-supported, while the subscription-only version will charge an access fee. The official announcement says the new service will include “homegrown original programming” in addition to pulling content from “NBCUniversal’s large content library” — including “some of the world’s most popular television and film franchises” — but there’s no early word on which familiar properties could land there.

Without getting into specifics, the company indicated the debut of its own streaming platform may not necessarily spell the end of popular movies and shows appearing on established streaming destinations like Netflix or Hulu (in which NBCUniversal owns a partial share).

“Consistent with the company’s long-standing strategy to distribute its content broadly, NBCUniversal will continue to license content to other studios and platforms, while retaining rights to certain titles for its new service,” the announcement states.

The new platform, which currently doesn’t have a name, is slated to debut in early 2020.

(Note: NBC Universal and its parent company, Comcast, own SYFY WIRE.)

It didn’t take Netflix long to renew The Dragon Prince for a second season following the animated series’ debut last September, and now we know when the new batch of episodes will be swooping down onto the streaming giant.

The show fired out a short and sweet tweet this week announcing the arrival of Season 2 on Feb. 15:

From Arron Ehasz, writer and director of Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Dragon Prince follows princes Callum (Jack De Sena) and Ezran (Sasha Rojen), along with elven assassin Rayla (Paula Burrows), on animated adventures that evoke strong artistic affinities for anyone who’s already a fan of Airbender or its acclaimed followup series, The Legend of Korra.

If you’ve missed out on The Dragon Prince and need to bone up ahead of the new season, no worries: Season 1 — including fan favorite Bait, Ezran’s cute (and usually hapless) glow toad — are streaming now at Netflix.

With a CGI-animated feature film on the way this spring, it looks as though the world of UglyDolls is getting set to expand far beyond the big screen. 

The Wrap reports that Alibaba Pictures has inked a new deal with STX Entertainment, the UglyDolls movie’s distributor, to “co-produce and co-finance global content using the UglyDolls intellectual property” in an upcoming series of ventures that’ll include an animated Hulu series, mobile games, multimedia content, and, of course, tons and tons of collectible doll-based merchandise.

Based on the popular and award-winning Uglydoll toy line launched in 2001 by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, the premise of the UglyDolls universe is one of inclusivity, embracing uniqueness and diversity. With no word yet on when the TV series will premiere at Hulu, we’ll be getting our first taste of how it’ll all look and feel this May 3, when UglyDolls the movie arrives in theaters.