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CBS All Access’ kids push explained

The US SVOD is getting into kids content for the first time with a raft of series from Boat Rocker and DHX, and is now on the hunt for more titles to fill its shelves.
August 9, 2019

CBS’ digital subscription video-on-demand and live streaming service, CBS All Access, is launching children’s programming for the first time. Even though the linear channel doesn’t actually carry any kids content, the broadcaster has found out what a lot of other SVODs have worked out as well…to survive and compete in a very crowded SVOD space, kids content is essential.

“Kids’ content is a really great way to win and keep family audiences,” says Josh Scherba, president of DHX Media, which is one of the first producers to sell several titles to the SVOD. “CBS All Access is a leading streaming service offering some amazing content already for older audiences. When we learned they were adding children’s content, we saw this as a fantastic opportunity to team up with them to deliver our shows to family audiences.”

Marc DeBevoise, the president and COO of CBS Interactive said in the announcement that “based on the age and demographics of our subscriber base, with an average age of 44, we see a significant opportunity to invest in children’s programming and provide even more value for subscribers with new originals and a world-class library of programming, specifically catered to our subscribers’ children.”

CBS is getting into the kids’ SVOD game at an incredibly busy time for new streamers. Disney+ is launching later this year, with a goal to only have family friendly programming; NBCUniversal has plans to launch its own offering in 2020; and WarnerMedia is gearing up its debut of HBO Max next year, with a focus on families with young children and young adults.

This may seem like the best time to be a kids content creator since all of these services need to stock their shelves with lots of content to pull in subscribers. But this year, Amazon Prime Video announced that it is no longer going to be commissioning content for preschoolers and kids, while US broadcaster Universal Kids halted its original content efforts as well.

What is it?

CBS’ direct-to-consumer digital SVOD and live streaming service has more than 10,000 episodes available currently, spanning from exclusive original series, as well as CBS’ own library of content and classic TV offerings. Some of its shows include The Good Fight, The Twilight Zone and Star Trek: Discovery.

The service is estimated to have around four million subscribers, according to its interim CEO Joe Ianniello. To access it users can use iOS or Android devices, as well as Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Fire TV, Samsung Smart TVs, Vizio Smartcast TVs and Amazon Prime Video Channels.

Who is the target?

To date, it’s largely been focused on adults, with an average age of 44. The addition of kids shows doesn’t, at the moment, appear to be changing this strategy. Rather, the additional series appear to be targeting kids of its existing subscribers (rather than, say, using kids content to lure in new families).

What kids content has CBS All Access picked up?

CBS has plans to add more than 1,000 episodes of library children’s programming to its SVOD. First, it is dipping its toe into the kids content pool with “original” and licensed content from DHX Media and Boat Rocker Studios.

DHX has signed an exclusive US SVOD deal for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (pictured), produced by the Canadian company, Sony Pictures Animation in association with Corus Entertainment. CBS is picking up season two of the show.

DHX has previously been licensed the 52 x 22-minute animated series to Turner in EMEA, APAC and LatAm and YTV in Canada. It will be joined  on CBS All Access by DHX’s library titles Inspector Gadget, The Adventures of Paddington Bear, Madeline and Heathcliff.

Boat Rocker, meanwhile, has sold both the rebooted and original versions of its Danger Mouse series that it produces with BBC Children’s Productions after acquiring Fremantle’s kids and family division early last year. Danger Mouse season two is exclusive to CBS All Access on all platforms in the US.

The classic version of the series, however, is not exclusive to CBS All Access. The animated show has been sold to more than 100 territories since British kidsnet CBBC revamped it in 2015, after a 22-year hiatus.

Is CBS All Access commissioning originals?

CBS is currently calling both Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Danger Mouse its first two original children’s series, despite the fact that both series have previously been fully financed, produced and aired on other channels outside of the US.

DeBevoise said he plans on adding more content to the children’s library going forward, some of which has already been picked up and will be announced at a later time, though there are no details yet on whether this will be original commissions or back catalogue.

Who is leading the kids content push?

Marc DeBevoise (President and COO, CBS Interactive) and Jeff Grossman (SVP, Digital Content, CBS Interactive Entertainment). All pitches should be sent to jgrossman@cbs.com.

When will the kids content launch?

Late 2019.

Where is CBS All Access available?

It first launched in the US in 2014, then expanded to Canada and Australia (under the name 10 All Access) in April 2018. Kids content, however, will only be available in the US, according to a CBS spokesperson.

How much does it cost?

The subscription costs US$5.99 per month with limited commercials or US$9.99 commercial free.

This story will be updated as new information emerges.

About The Author
Alexandra Whyte is Kidscreen's Senior Online Writer/Social Media Coordinator. Contact her at awhyte@brunico.com

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