These days, there is no set way to build a kids brand.  Content is distributed in so many different ways, and across so many different channels, that 'the next big thing' won't necessarily be a product of mainstream TV.

This interesting article from Kidscreen looks at several examples of where brands developed through YouTube (to pick just one example of an alternative method of content distribution), and have successfully made the leap into brand licensing.  It analyses the variety of ways in which they managed to achieve this.  

One thing that particularly stands out to me is the agility a strong YouTube presence can bring, through easy access to user feedback - which can be used to determine the future direction of the brand, or predict what merchandise will sell well and what won't.

So what's the message for retailers here?  Well in my view, it's that strong licensing opportunities can come from anywhere, so keep your ear to the ground and your eyes peeled!