LOS ANGELES -- Continuing a campaign to deepen its appeal to children, Netflix on Tuesday announced a partnership with DreamWorks Animation to create an original cartoon series.

The show, expected to make its debut on the streaming service in December, will be based on DreamWorks Animation's coming movie "Turbo," about a snail who gains the power of super speed. The Netflix spinoff will be called "Turbo: F.A.S.T.," which stands for Fast Action Stunt Team.

Netflix is gambling that "Turbo" will be a hit when it arrives in theaters on July 19. Although DreamWorks Animation has high hopes for that movie, it's still anyone's guess how audiences will respond; the company's last film, "Rise of the Guardians," was a box office disappointment.

 DreamWorks Animation’ s 3D feature film Turbo races into theaters on July 19, 2013. (PRNewsFoto/Netflix, Inc.)
DreamWorks Animation' s 3D feature film Turbo races into theaters on July 19, 2013. (PRNewsFoto/Netflix, Inc.)

Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, said in a statement that DreamWorks Animation had "a long track record of creating incredibly successful characters." DreamWorks Animation's chief executive, Jeffrey Katzenberg, never shy about making a hard sell, called the partnership "part of the television revolution."

A rival streaming service, Amazon's Prime Instant Video, is racing to prepare its own original series, and has five children's shows in development.

Netflix, which recently introduced the original series "House of Cards" to strong reviews from critics, has been working over the last several years to enhance its offerings for children. In 2011, it acquired the streaming rights to DreamWorks Animation's movies and television specials. New films from Disney, Pixar and Marvel will move from Starz to Netflix in late 2016, following a deal the streaming company made with the Walt Disney Co. in December.


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Netflix said its members streamed more than 2 billion hours of children's content in 2012, taking care to note that it is "always commercial free." Netflix is also trying to enhance its appeal with multiple audience niches. A new horror series called "Hemlock Grove" is on the way, for instance. "Orange is the New Black," an original comedic drama from "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan, is aimed at women.

Children's programming is particularly important to the company's growth plans. Children are avid streaming consumers, particularly overseas, and Netflix can pitch itself to parents as a commercial-free alternative to television. Cartoons are also less likely to appear on the pirated-content sites that compete with Netflix for viewers.

For DreamWorks Animation, the agreement is part of an effort to diversify into television both as a way to grow and to avoid the sharp ups and downs of the movie business. The company's shares rose 2.91 percent on Tuesday, to $16.63.

The company has two shows on Nickelodeon that are spinoffs of its "Madagascar" and "Kung Fu Panda" films; a third series built around "Monsters vs. Aliens" is in the works. DreamWorks Animation also has a series built around the film "How to Train Your Dragon" on the Cartoon Network, as well as a growing number of holiday-themed television specials.