Netflix is targeting your children. Ok, that sounds quite sinister – and maybe it is – but they’re gunning for them all the same.
Why? Because like any entertainment industry, kids are where the money’s at. Kids come with parents. Parents come with bank accounts. Bank accounts come with subscriptions.
The problem is that Netflix isn’t very popular with the kids – or, more accurately, their parents.
In the US last month, Netflix lost a load of childrens content from Viacom, including Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants. As your favourite video on-demand publication put it:
As Lauren put it on the Netflix customer support forum:
Netflix’s website was flooded with comments from angry parents – the page is now deactivated to stop more people hurling abuse at them for making their children cry (although to be fair, it is ALL THEIR FAULT).
Where did Viacom go? Amazon, of course. Yes, Netflix’s rival signed a massive check to tempt Dora and SpongeBob away from their old owner. It didn’t adults long to realise their childrens’ favourites were now available on LOVEFiLM:
19 days ago, Vicki Lee wrote on the Netflix website: “Letting everyone know that Amazon has Diego & Dora. Just started my free trial. Bye bye Netflix!”
With lots of customers doing the same, Netflix had to act. Fast. How do you make it clear that you’re still down with the kids? Launch a new page called Netflix Families, full of pretty promotional content and all-new category names. Catchy, self-explanatory phrases like “Family Film Night”, “TV for Curious Kids”, “Superhero Films for You and Your Teens” and “Are We There Yet? Great Titles To Take On Holiday”.
There’s even “Catch-Up TV for Busy Parents”, a category that includes such child-friendly titles as Breaking Bad and Nurse Jackie.
Netflix Families – finally bringing Bob the Builder, Pingu and Breaking Bad together.
The most revolutionary thing about the launch, though? The Netflix Families page is visibly to both subscribers and non-subscribers – the first time that Netflix has revealed its treasures to the public without them surrendering their credit card details.
That alone is a huge step for the company. The video on-demand is shrouded by competition and secrecy, where behind the scenes battles for exclusive rights to this are happening all the time – and no one wants to admit what they’ve got, or haven’t got, in case someone else swipes it away from them tomorrow.
The move comes hot on the heels of another exclusive kids deal with DreamWorks Animation. It doesn’t give them anything new immediately, but they now have first dibs on TV shows featuring DA’s characters, which adds up over 300 hours of programmes.
Amazon, of course, have responded with their own child-friendly announcement:
Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, a service that offers games, apps, books, movies and TV shows (hello, Dora) to kids aged 3-8 for the baby price tag of $2.99 per kid.
The most bonkers thing about this all? The legal wrangling and check-signing only applies to US Netflix and Amazon. It doesn’t affect anyone in the UK. As for Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, there’s no sign of when (or if) that will hit our shores.
We still get the all-new Netflix Families page with its cute category names, but nothing else has changed. It’s still the same old content – just a little bit more visible to the general public.
Which means now it’s even easier for us to find SpongeBob SquarePants and watch it in our pyjamas.
Now there’s something the whole family can enjoy.