Crackle Plus Unleashes Streaming Series ‘Pet Caves’ For PetSmart

Pet Caves Chicken Soup for the Soul
(Image credit: Chicken Soup for the Soul)

Cats. dogs, bunnies and more are coming to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s ad-supported VOD service in Pet Caves, a new series created with sponsor PetSmart.

Pet Caves is hosted by pet behaviorist Kayla Oliver and celebrity design architect Nina Ferrer, who help animal lovers makeover rooms in their homes to accommodate their mostly furry family members.

In each episode, Oliver–who once worked at PetSmart no less–and Ferrer go to a PetSmart store for items and accessories they need to provide critter comforts.

The show will debut exclusively on the Chicken Soup for the Soul free streaming service, which is available on Vizio and Samsung smart TVs, starting September 1. Pet Caves will also be available for free on Sept. 15 via the company’s Crackle service. Redbox, recently acquired by Chicken Soup for Soul Entertainment, will also stream the show later this fall.

Darren Olive, executive VP of national sales and strategy for Crackle Plus, the Chicken Soup for the Soul division responsible for its streaming business, told Broadcasting+Cable that the idea for the show grew out of an annual meeting with PetSmart, already an ad client.

Chicken Soup for the Soul’s family-friendly programming over-indexes with pet owners and PetSmart was looking to reach audiences that no longer watch traditional television..

Crackle Plus hatched its Chicken Soup for the Soul AVOD network earlier this year, and “it really fit well into their initiative to target families in an environment that’s brand safe and trusted,” Olive said.

With streaming, Crackle is able to use pet ownership as a behavioral target to zero in on the consumers PetSmart is looking to reach.

In its discussions with Crackle Plus, PetSmart also said it was interested in integrating its brand direction into original programming, Olive said.

“We had been in development of the show Pet Caves kind of serendipitously as part of a push to do more branded content on our AVOD and fast channels,” Olive said. The show was a doggone good fit with the PetSmart tagline “Anything for Pets.”

“We said 'hey, we’ve got this show. It aligns really well with your tagline and what you’re looking to do.' It was an aha moment for us,” he said.

On top of that, Chicken Soup for the Soul has its own brand of pet food, which is sold at PetSmart. The Chicken Soup for the Soul brand pet food is being integrated into the series as well, Olive said.

“At PetSmart, we’re always seeking innovative ways to connect with pet parents and share our unrivaled expertise and love for pets,” says PetSmart senior vice president and chief marketing officer Will Smith. “Home is truly where our pets are, and what better way to show we’ll do anything for pets than by shining a light on the stories of people who revitalize their homes just for their furry, feathered, or scaly family friends? That’s exactly what Pet Caves does.”

In addition to being integrated into the show, PetSmart will be presenting the show with limited commercial interruptions. It will also get other show-adjacent opportunities, including custom billboards and pause ads (paws ads?) that show a static message from PetSmart when viewers pause the show.

Petsmart will also be featured in custom tune in ads and its commercials will run on Popcornflix and Red Box in addition to the Chicken Soup for the Soul and Crackle Channels.

Crackle Plus is also providing PetSmart with 20 short-form clips from the show it will distribute over its own social channels and internally to its employees.

Pet Caves Hosts Kayla Oliver Nina Ferrer

Pet Caves hosts Kayla Oliver and Nina Ferrer (Image credit: Chicken Soup for the Soul)

Crackle Plus and PetSmart mutually agreed to have the show produced by TeamSheed Productions, a black-owned production company Crackle Plus had worked with before.

TeamSheed helped Crackle Plus and PetSmart showcase a diverse set of families as well as a broad range of pets, including a bearded iguana.

“We saw Pet Caves as a great opportunity to work with two beloved brands, Chicken Soup for the Soul Studios and PetSmart,” said Rasheed J. Daniel, principal and executive producer for Teamsheed. “As a black-owned business, we were also attracted to the diversity not only reflected in the show but also the values reflected in both of these esteemed organizations.”

It was also a stroke of luck that co-host Kayla Oliver had once worked at a PetSmart. “She had a great understanding of the brand and the company, so it was just this perfect marriage and perfect partnership,” Olive said. “We're hoping to springboard into a whole, a whole series of new shows and movies.”

Olive declined to say how much PetSmart is spending on Pet Caves, but said the retailer is now the company’s largest media partner in the pet category.

Pet Caves is executive produced by Rasheed J. Daniel of TeamSheed Productions and Michael Winter for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. Corey Noll and Lexi Brown serve as co-executive producers, and the series is distributed globally by Screen Media.  ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.