Netflix knows what people like. Not only do they make it their business to offer a variety of movies and TV shows through their streaming video subscription service, they also make it their business to keep an eye on what the people like, and in this case, what the kids like. The kids like The Magic School Bus, according to Netflix's Ted Sarandos. So The Magic School Bus, the kids will get. Netflix is acquiring the worldwide streaming rights of 26 half-hour episodes of a followup to The Magic School Bus.
NY Times reports that the new program is titled The Magic School Bus 360?. The goal is to make the new series available to kids by 2016, according to plans announced by Netflix today. As the Times notes, Netflix secured the rights to stream the original Scholastic series last year, align with Clifford the Big Red Dog and Goosebumps. From what Ted Sarandos says, the original Magic School Bus is "remarkably popular" on the streaming service. "Parents trust it and kids love it," he said, going on to promise an "even more relevant and entertaining" program for today's kids with Magic School Bus 360?.
The new series will feature an updated version of the original series' lead character Ms. Frizzle, and the young scientists featured will use "newer scientific tools, such as robots or a smart suit worn by the character Carlos that determines his body’s vital signs instantly." So that gives us some idea of how Netflix and Scholastic plan to update the series for today's young audience. The bus itself will also be updated.
The original Magic School Bus series ran from 1994 to 1997 on PBS, and was targeted toward school-age children in its efforts to encourage kids to appreciate science and find the fun in the topic. After The Magic School Bus ran on PBS, it was rerun on other networks, including Fox and NBC. This was back during a time when Saturday morning cartoons were still relevant. I'm sure kids still watch cartoons on Saturday morning, but anyone with kids and access to Netflix or other On Demand options likely knows that even small children can be tech savvy enough to navigate the children's programming menus. In fact, from what I've seen, Netflix's Kids menu is easy enough to sift through, even for kids too young to read. So it makes sense that services like Netflix and Amazon would be expanding their original children's programming slate.
Netflix's move to revive The Magic School Bus is reminiscent of their choice to bring back Arrested Development. Obviously, the series are vastly different, targeting totally different audiences, but like Arrested Development, The Magic School Bus is an older but celebrated series Netflix was offering and likely collecting viewer data on, leading up to their decision to acquire the rights to order their own followup series. They know kids like it, so they likely believe the chances of it being worth the investment are good.
In related news, whether we're all going to be referring to that as simply Magic School Bus 360 or Magic School Bus 360 Degrees probably depends on how long it takes for us to figure out how to type "?". (For reference, that's Alt-248 or Option-K)