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Disney+ ushers in streaming war for kid-friendly content

A child-like illustration of a bear on a unicorn with a rainbow in the background.
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.