As today’s kids and parents veer further away from traditional TV watching and move into the increasingly crowded online, mobile and streaming space, more cross-platform kids networks are looking for unique ways to offer up fresh content.
Enter New York-based start-up batteryPOP, a brand new network for kids ages six to 11 that provides premium short-form content for free in a safe online environment. Launched by former Nickelodeon vets Greg Alkalay and Taso Mastorakis in November, batteryPOP was born from the pair’s recognition of a need to create a platform for the under-served six to 11 demo that would also help give exposure to content creators of new original programs.
Currently available for streaming across computers, tablets and smartphones, batteryPOP features original (Chew On That, What’s Poppin’), acquired (Totally Random, Cody the Dinosaur) and branded content including cartoons and live-action shows, exclusive celebrity interviews, multi-lingual programming, science and math series, videogame tutorials and music videos.
To help creators, batteryPOP is accepting concepts in all formats from writers, animators, puppeteers, directors, actors, voice-over artists and illustrators and will provide production assistance, revenue sharing, marketing, and further development support should a show become a hit.
Kids can also help determine what types of shows launch on the fully COPPA-compliant platform by “popping” or voting for their favorite programs, then sharing them with friends and providing feedback directly to batteryPOP content creators.
While Alkalay and Mastorakis expect a boost in batteryPOP’s growth with help from marketing efforts launched just last week and upcoming 15- and 20-second pre-roll video ads, the duo is currently focused on finding quality premium content, much of it not found anywhere else.
iKids caught up with Alkalay and Mastorakis to learn more about batteryPOP, which was recently named among Café Mom’s top 10 mom-approved sites.
How does batteryPOP stand out from the competition?
Alkalay: We’re really tapping into our expertise from a combined 20 years at Nick. We want to run batteryPOP as a network—giving kids the voice for what is popular with the POP concept and offering things like events, new show launches, and eventually video features like creator chats. Our audience has the ability to connect with our content. In a sense, we’re asking kids to be our development executives.
How is content divided across the platform?
Alkalay: It is split between content we host and content we source from platforms like YouTube, Vimeo and Vine. Our relationship with YouTube allows us to source specific content for free and present it in a safe place by turning off the recommendations and hiding the comments. The amount of our hosted and sourced content is close to even, but this will change as we place more emphasis on hosted content as we grow.
What programs have found early success?
Alkalay: Sci-fi web series Escape from Michael Feurstein is doing nicely for us. It’s like Lost meets Meatballs. The exclusive video premiere and interviews we did with X-Factor‘s Al Calderon have also done really well for us. We are trying to bring on more musicians by finding great singers on YouTube or reaching out directly to artists. Friday is eventually going to become our music day where we push out new performers and videos.
How are you helping new content creators?
Mastorakis: For creators it has always been difficult. You’re either an animator down at the bottom trying to get up or you are a part of the culture of networks always going to their same pool of people. It’s hard for creators to break that ceiling. We wanted to launch a platform where they can showcase their work and build a following for themselves. It not only gives them an audience they can turn to for feedback, but also helps give them some numbers and leverage to speak to when they do go and pitch networks.
How are your monetization and growth efforts working out so far?
Alkalay: We initially did a friends and family seed round which gives us a good six-month runway and we plan on doing another seed round if not later this winter then definitely early spring. We’re working on the deck right now and introducing ourselves to potential angel investors. We need money to market and bring on some of the higher-end content, and we’re still willing to license really good content because we know that helps build an audience. We also want to make sure we can get our content up on Roku or on third party platforms and smart TVs. We’re negotiating a lot of partnerships where batteryPOP content will be available on other people’s websites. This will hopefully increase our reach and the ad revenue we’re bringing on which we can share with our content creators who haven’t been able to make a cent on YouTube or anywhere with their content.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Alkalay: Building an audience. We have great content, and a site that we love and creative partners we’re really happy to be working with so now it’s all about getting in front of kids and parents and getting them to come back. The content on our site is our emphasis. We believe that once kids find us they are going to love it.