Kids are flocking to the small screen, and who can blame them. A slab of technology that they can hold in their hands opens them up to a world of choice and variety, rather than just what’s playing on their favourite TV channel at that time. We want to use YouTube and apps to access content because we can access more, and we like more. Recordings on the DVR are out. Streaming on the tablet is in.
Online, anyone can put any type of content out there which people can watch and enjoy. I’ve recently developed an interest for Minecraft, and have taken a look at some Minecraft gaming videos on YouTube by family-friendly YouTubers. They are of equal quality to what’s appearing on our TV screen. Vloggers recording every part of their lives, so we can be a part of it, so we know how to handle and overcome situations in our lives. People want to sit down and watch Zoella run us through what’s in her bag, they’re not into watching a sitcom about a vlog.
Within seconds, we can get what we want, when we want it. My sister does use YouTube, but I’m not a huge fan of her using it to watch shows recorded from live TV streams and put on the internet. She does like it though, because she can access it in a tap, get what she wants in a tap, and she’s entertained for a good 25 minutes. No waiting, it’s all nice and fluid. However, television companies are seeing this trend, and they’re ready to address it.
The BBC are developing “iPlay”, an app to serve as a video on demand app for their programming, made for kids. They will be taken directly to what they want. Sky are developing a video on demand app for kids, building on their existing good relationships with premium content creators. They will be incorporating a “bedtime setting” so kids won’t be hooked, a similar function is available on their satellite boxes. Cartoon Network, Disney channels and Nickelodeon already have mobile-optimised websites with games, clips and exclusive content only available online. They want kids to use their online facilities, and they don’t want to miss out on the kids using the internet for their entertainment.
Apps like Hopster and PlayKids are ready to occupy pre-schoolers, providing games and full episodes, for a price each month. I love pre-school TV (don’t judge me!) and I absolutely love Hopster. The way content is presented in a kid-friendly interface in these apps is absolutely fantastic, and the video content in these apps is what parents want their kids to be watching – and I just so happen to like watching it as well. Epic! offers a “Netflix for books” for kids on their app, providing access to thousands of books targeting kids up to 12. I used it for some time, and found it was alright – but it’s not going to put Waterstones out of business any time soon.
But the game changer for kids entertainment on digital platforms will the new DisneyLife app, developed in-house by Disney, ready to completely change content on demand forever. The press coverage and website tell you that not only will you be able to access Disney’s TV box sets, but their fantastic collection of amazing movies, their music catalogue featuring everyone’s favourite “Let It Go”, their books library and a free app for DisneyLife subscribers, all for a £9.99 subscription per month. That is incredible value for money for unlimited access to this huge catalogue of Disney content, and a lot cheaper than a pay-TV subscription to only access their channels and select content available On Demand.
The prospect of what we love about television making its way to our phones and tablets is really exciting, and it’s something I’ve been waiting a long time for. Apps being developed to specifically target kids and keep them watching what’s being put on the big screen, it shows we are really powerful consumers because these decisions haven’t been made to make us move to the small screen, it’s because we’re already there and television companies are missing out.