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PlayKids moves beyond video with three new apps

Movile's co-founder Eduardo Henrique explains why the company is adding eBooks, games and instant messaging to the PlayKids platform.
March 22, 2016

After dominating app charts across the globe, SVOD app PlayKids is getting playful with its success. Nine months after receiving a US$15-million investment from Brazilian parentco Movile, the service is taking its digital offerings to another level by launching three new apps—PlayKids Stories, PlayKids Talk and PlayKids Party (pictured).

The PlayKids app first launched with video content for preschoolers in Brazil in 2013. Along with the original PlayKids app, which features more than 5,000 videos with content from eOne, PBS, The Jim Henson Company and DHX, the new trio of apps bring eBooks, instant messaging and games into the fold—something no other kids platform is currently doing, contends Eduardo Henrique, Movile co-founder and head of global expansion.

“We are trying to bring more activities to the family, and offer more content and different formats,” he says. “We want to be the platform for families to find good entertainment and learning activities to play, read and watch together—especially using mobile devices as the main driver.”

Henrique describes PlayKids Talk as a safe WhatsApp-type of instant messenger for kids and parents, whereas PlayKids Stories houses more than 380 eBooks that feature content from Disney, DreamWorks, Discovery Kids and National Geographic. PlayKids Party, meanwhile, has more than 10 interactive games designed to improve learning capacity, memory training, attention spans and mental flexibility.

“We’re seeing amazing growth since we’ve launched these new apps. We are very excited about the value that they are bringing to the platform,” he says. “Personally, I’m super excited about PlayKids Stories. I think it increases the willingness to pay for the platform, because it’s more educational than the video offer.”

All four PlayKids apps are now available in more than 100 countries and in 16 languages via a monthly subscription, with prices varying by country (for example, parents will dole out US$6.99 in the US, US$4.99 in Latin America and US$3.99 in China).

“I don’t see any competitor doing what we are in terms of platform,” says Henrique, adding that while companies like YouTube and Netflix provide vast video offerings in the kids markets, they don’t offer books, games and a communications tool. He adds that Amazon and Reading Rainbow are leaders in books, and companies like Toca Boca focus on gaming, but few companies are successfully packaging all of these elements together into one platform.

That may be the case with regards to instant messaging, but there is no shortage of platforms that offer video content and gaming in one place. Aside from fellow industry leader Hopster, whose SVOD/gaming mobile offering expanded to more than 100 territories in 2015, last year alone saw the launch of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s interactive gaming and video subscription service Curious World, as well as Cupcake Digital’s NetKids, which is a mobile app that houses a mix of video, book and activity content from top kids brands like Strawberry Shortcake. Toca Boca has been vocal about its plans to integrate video content with mobile gaming, too.

So while growth within this sector appears obvious, Henrique says Movile foresees an economic crisis headed for the kids mobile market—one that will be driven by a growing lack of investor confidence in the startup tech industry. “It’s become more difficult to raise money globally in the past six months,” he says. “But in every crisis you see the best opportunities.”

“Ten years ago, it was videogames and TV, but the future of media for kids is mobile,” he says. “In the next two years we will see the definition of this market.”

For now, Movile’s main focus is to consolidate its own platform by better integrating its suite of apps, continuing to build its portfolio of educational learning videos and eBooks, and to grow its business in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Latin America and China.

About The Author
Patrick Callan is a senior writer at Kidscreen. He reports on the licensing and consumer products side of the global children's entertainment industry via daily news coverage and in-depth features. Contact Patrick at pcallan@brunico.com.

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