Amazon targets kids with new subscription service and tablet
James R | On 03, Jun 2015
Do children in your family have a tablet? According to Ofcom’s most recent figures, one in three kids aged between five and 15 own one. Now, Amazon is planning to increase that number with its own dedicated kids tablet – complete with subscription media service.
The family market has increasingly been the focus of VOD companies in recent years, as both Netflix and Amazon sign a raft of deals to secure original and exclusive content. Netflix has DreamWorks on its team, with a large slate of original spin-offs, while Amazon has included a growing number of kids’ TV shows within its pilot schemes.
Neither, though, has introduced a dedicated streaming service for children. Until now.
Amazon has today announced Fire for Kids Unlimited, an all-you-can-eat subscription service, which includes books, videos, educational apps and games.
The service costs £1.99 per month (per child) or £4.99 per month for a family (up to four children) for Amazon Prime members. Those who are not Prime members pay a slightly higher fee of £3.99 per month (per child) or £7.99 per month for a family.
The service puts Amazon in direct competition with Hopster, a kids’ streaming service that offers unlimited VOD titles and educational games for £3.99 a month. The model has proven highly successful, thanks to Hopster’s curation of both videos and its in-built “Hopster Curriculum” (which, in turn, is based on multiple international curricula) that dictates its educational game offerings.
Amazon’s media empire means that it can offer books as well as the other media, which gives it an edge over the start-up, which launched in 2013. Its library of videos will include favourites such as Ben 10, Chuggington, Avengers, Mickey Mouse, Dora the Explorer, The Penguins of Madagascar and Shaun the Sheep – all of which are already on Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Alongside Nickelodeon, partners include Disney (who will bring games such as Frozen Free Fall), Mattel (Thomas & Friends and Fireman Sam) and Sanrio (who will provide the Little Miss and Mr. Men book series).
For parents, Amazon hopes to appeal to their battered wallets – “Kids change their minds all the time about which character is their favourite… making it difficult for parents to keep up,” says Jorrit Van der Meulen, Vice President, Amazon Devices EU – but also to their concerns about safety. All in-app payments, advertisements and social media have been removed from the device, while parental controls will them choose what content their kids see, as well as set screen time limits to prevent them using the service for too long.
All of the content is also pre-screened for age-appropriateness. Indeed, concerns surrounding unsuitable content have dogged YouTube since the launch of its own kid-friendly app, while in-app purchases by young users have been the subject of scandals involving both Apple and Android devices.
While Amazon has a larger library than Hopster, though, it comes with one restriction: unlike Hopster, which is compatible with Apple TV, Android and iOS devices, Fire for Kids Unlimited is only available through Amazon’s own-brand Fire devices.
The service has been launched alongside Amazon’s new Fire HD Kids Edition tablet. The device, which is branded as “a real tablet, not a toy”, features a quad-core processor, a vivid HD display, front and rear-facing cameras and Dolby Digital audio.
To protect the hardware, the tablet comes with a two-year guarantee that promises to replace any returned, broken tablets “no questions asked”.
To ease fears of kids renting content willy-nilly, Amazon is including a year of the Fire for Kids Unlimited service with its tablet – existing Fire tablet owners can get a free one-month trial. It will also only allow Internet access on an app by app basis, so that parents can specifically approve platforms such as YouTube.
The device is available to pre-order from today for £119 (with 8GB of memory) and £139 (with 16GB of memory), with shipments starting on 18th June.
What do you think? Would you buy one for your kids?