Oct 22, 2019

Disney+ ushers in streaming war for kid-friendly content

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Streamers, eager to bill themselves as family friendly entertainment alternatives, are eyeing kids content as their next big investments.

Why it matters: The streaming wars have focused on competitors looking to oust Netflix, but when it comes to kid-friendly options, the yet-to-launch Disney+ is the company to beat.

Driving the news: Disney+ will make the bulk of its classic Disney movie and series library available in the U.S. on November 12th, the company announced last week.

  • Disney has yanked most of its titles from Netflix and other streaming services. According to The New York Times, Netflix has been gearing up for a major investment in kids content in response.
  • "It has quietly amassed an army of children and family creators and executives who have been stockpiling counterattack content," writes The Times' Brooks Barnes.

Yes, but: Netflix faces stiff competition in the bid for children's entertainment.

  • HBO Max recently inked a deal to produce five new seasons of Sesame Street, each with 35-episodes, starting in spring of 2020.
  • Apple TV+ has also signed a deal with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, to produce a Sesame Street spinoff called "Helpsters." It's also producing a new series based on the Peanuts dog called "Snoopy in Space."
  • ViacomCBS, home to iconic kids brands like Nickelodeon and Noggin, has launched kids-specific streaming services, but is also producing content for streamers like Netflix.

The big picture: Kids content matters to streamers because it will help reduce churn, says Melissa Henson program director at the Parents Television Council.

  • "Streaming services correctly perceive daily audiences as having max value for them. Because young millennial subscribers are most likely to churn through the different streaming services after they're done binging their favorite hit, the services need to rely on the regularity of family audiences."
  • Henson notes that families develop daily routines around kids and family-friendly content, like watching a certain series after school.

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Photo: Disney

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Why it matters: The service will be the flagship product to define the career of Disney CEO Bob Iger. On an earnings call last week, Iger called the launch "one of our most ambitious initiatives to-date."

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Why it matters: A streaming distribution partnership between Amazon and Disney seemed uncertain after it was reported last month that the two companies were at odds over advertising terms. Amazon's Fire TV stick is the second-largest TV app distributor next to Roku. Disney needs that distribution outlet to hit its lofty subscriber goals.

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First casualty in the streaming wars

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Sony is shutting down Playstation Vue — its digital live-television service — next January, the company said in a blog post. It's the first digital live TV package to shutter after a slew of such services launched over the past five years.

Why it matters: Media companies and distribution networks are all trying to find new ways to package up content for streaming, but none of them has a magic formula. Increasingly, their over-the-top services resemble the cable bundles they sought to overtake.

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