The founder of globally popular Islamic cartoon series Omar & Hana has launched a new venture, Durioo, to create more Islamic-themed children’s content and games.
Sinan Ismail has been the public face of Didi & Friends since 2014, and Omar & Hana since 2017. As the founder and CEO of Digital Durian, the company behind the Islamic cartoon series, Ismail took the shows beyond a largely Malaysian audience to a global one. This year, Omar & Hana reached over 3 billion views on their YouTube channels in 50 countries.
This week, Sinan said goodbye to Didi & Friends to announce the launch of his latest venture, Durioo, which is to produce its own Islamic-themed children’s content and games under Durio Plus and Durio Games.
Durioo’s team of 38 members is largely from the Digital Durian house. “They are the creative minds behind Omar & Hana, and Didi & Friends. We are not sure yet if Omar & Hana will join the world of Durioo. We want to do it because we love making the content, and the fans love it,” said Sinan, Durioo’s founder and CEO in Kuala Lumpur.
While Omar & Hana was about the eponymous four and six year old siblings, the new cartoons will focus on ages below four and above six. To be launched in 2022, Little Ammar is aimed at pre-school children. “Omar & Hana was not really suitable for under four years old. Kids of that age should be listening to songs or rhymes. They’ll also be learning alef ba [Arabic alphabet], shapes and numbers,” said Sinan.
Little Ammar is a “CoComelon for Muslims kids,” he said, referring to the popular Netflix sing-along series. Ammar has a pet rabbit and twin sisters, with the content related to Islamic values. Each episode is to run for three minutes and the audio is recorded in-house in Malay, English and Arabic. International partners have signed on for dubbing into Uzbek, Russian, Tajik, Urdu, Mandarin and French.
The second show is aimed at five to nine year old girls, a segment that has not attracted much focus in Islamic-themed cartoons. Mina & Mila is based on Little Ammar’s sisters. “The show is about identical twins with different personalities going through their daily life. They understand that life together is better, even if they have differences,” said Sinan.
Little Ammar is to be launched first on streaming platform Youtube. The language dubbing companies will be business partners with the ability to generate revenues from the intellectual property (IP) rights. Durioo is in discussions with investors and venture capital firms for further funding and is planning a bigger investment round in early 2022.
“We have a huge market and huge potential, with 400 million Muslim families worldwide with children between one to 12 years old,” said Sinan.
With the Durioo team having a strong production track-record, the firm has inked merchandising licences and publishing rights for books and is “almost there” with a deal in Britain.
“We have the experience and the relationships with our previous partners, which has helped us to kick-start revenue from day one. Signing before the content is out is a good sign,” said Sinan.
Durioo may not launch Mina & Mila on Youtube, but its own platform Durioo Plus is slated to cost around $4 per month. Revenues generated on the US streaming platform have been impacted by US privacy and tax laws. Earlier this year, the US introduced a tax deduction of 30% of earnings on Youtube; advertising is split 45% for the platform and 55% for the content creator.
Durioo aims to work with other animation companies on co-productions and is developing its own line of digital games. “The Muslim community is underserved in games that benefit the kids with high quality content that reflects Islamic values,” said Sinan.
“Ultimately, we want to reach as many Muslim children around the world and have a subscription model. Hopefully, if we do that, it is a win-win for parents and the company and we can create more content.”
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