YouTube Kids Will Get Original Programming and Maybe a TV App

YouTube Kids launched two years ago, an age that seems surprising given how new the service still seems. The goal of the app was to provide families with a collection of content for kids, filtering out content less suitable. The service launched with some criticism as the company tried to improve its filtering.

Since then, it seems like they’ve gotten a better grip of age appropriate content and continued to grow their catalog. After two years, the app boasts over 30 billion in-app views and 8 million active viewers. It is a pretty fascinating set of statistics. What TV channel could obtain the same marketshare in the child demographic?

With the two-year anniversary, the company is announcing new things in a blog post.

Original Content

YouTube is leveraging its popularity and resources for new shows that can be watched by YouTube Red subscribers. These new shows are also designed for YouTube Kids specifically. The shows, “Hyperlinked”, “DanTDM Creates a Big Scene”, “The King of Atlantis”, and “Fruit Ninja: Frenzy Force” have descriptions that seem like they’re the evening lineup for Nickelodeon, but there could be some creative storytelling that excels in an online medium.

Smart TV Apps

The YouTube Kids app is coming to your smart TV, assuming you have an LG or Samsung TV. This announcement is a bit absurd to hear. I don’t understand why they’d optimize it for two competing smart TV platforms when they have one in-house that would be perfect. If they tied YouTube Kids with Live Channels they could create an amazing children’s TV network that could easily rival cable.

I really hope this announcement means a true Android TV app is coming soon, and not just dealing with the stock YouTube app. Children still use the TV that’s central to the home. Often they watch more TV than the parents. For now, you can cast content from YouTube Kids to your TV.

Comparisons Between New Shows and Existing Shows

As I mentioned, some of the descriptions of the shows seem a lot like Nickelodeon shows. I figured I’d elaborate in this section. I don’t mean to say these new shows will be bad, just that the concepts are not entirely new. The producers should take care to make their content stand out.

Hyperlinked: This series is inspired by a true story and stars music sensation L2M. It follows five girls as they come together to create their own website by girls for girls. They also must navigate everyday tween issues involving friends and relationships.

This seems just like iCarly
and even more recently the Disney show Bizaardvark.

DanTDM Creates A Big Scene: Catch DanTDM and his lively group of animated friends as they battle mayhem and misadventure to keep their brand new live show on the road. Each episode follows their behind-the-scenes exploits as they learn new skills, overcome challenges and find that putting on an epic show isn’t quite as easy as it looks. …

This reminds me of other shows that feature a band like Austin & Ally, Jonas, and Hannah Montana. Of course, Nickelodeon has had shows like The Naked Brothers Band and Big Time Rush.

The appeal of creating a series about musicians makes sense. The producers can leverage the brand to get music purchases. If the characters were already a band, or siblings, the show gets some additional organic character relationships. However, this means the genre is already pretty saturated and it may be hard to appeal to children who have become fans of others.

The Kings of Atlantis: “The Kings of Atlantis” is an epic animated series that follows two young monarchs —Cody and Joe— in the vast underwater city of Atlantis as they seek to overthrow the brutal usurper of their kingdom, reclaim their birthright, and protect their people from his cruel reign.

A plot about a monarch trying to reclaim their kingdom sounds a bit like The Emperor’s New Groove, and the show that spun off of it. The underwater spin is similar to Fish Hooks. Disney is quite familiar with monarchies, although the description may mean it’s a bit more serious than The Little Mermaid series.

Fruit Ninja: Frenzy Force: Four Fruit Ninjas set up a juice stand as a front for the messiest secret service in the world. The new Fruit Ninja characters—Seb, Niya, Peng and Ralph—come together to fight the evil forces of Durian Grey and the Deep Fried Samurai. They will use their Juice Jitsu skills (and perhaps some help from their own samurai) to prevail.

Leveraging popular brands for a cartoon is hardly new. Tak and the Power of Juju derived from a video game, as have many animes. Cartoons have been used to sell toys or cigarettes.

I’m a bit skeptical as to how good a cartoon based on a video game can be. Often there’s a tough balance between staying true to the source and veering off so much that the only similarity is the name.

This is all my opinion, and subject to change once these shows are released. Perhaps I’ve grown a bit cynical as to the intentions of many kids shows. Hopefully these four shows can act as positive demonstrations of how children shows should be written and produced, and serve as a positive influence for the industry. If not, they’ll become a small footnote that will be forgotten a few years later.

Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub (http://github.com/fleker) Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop. Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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