Halifax-based DHX Media, The Jim Henson Company, Nat Geo Kids, Corus Entertainment and BabyFirst Plus are among the first creators of paid YouTube channels.
A statement on YouTube’s blog also announced that Sesame Workshop will launch a paid Sesame Street channel offering full episodes of the long-running series, but it doesn’t yet appear among YouTube’s initial 53 paid channels. When reached this morning, a rep for Sesame Workshop had no comment.
The video streaming giant’s unveiling of its new subscription channels puts the Google-owned online platform closer to acheiving an affordable a-la-carte lineup of premium content and in a better position to compete with Netflix on the SVOD front.
DHX’s new kids channels – DHX Kids, DHX Junior and DHX Retro – will be offered for US$2.99 per month or US$24.99 per year in 10 countries including the US, UK, Australia, Brazil, and Canada, and in multiple languages.
The YouTube content, culled from DHX’s library of 8,500 half hours of children’s programming, is currently available on a two-week free trial basis.
Live-action and animated titles in the US on DHX Kids include Horseland, Mudpit, Sabrina and Sherlock Holmes. DHX Junior features series such as The Busy World of Richard Scarry and The Doodlebops, while subscribers to DHX Retro can access classic kids shows including Inspector Gadget and Super Mario.
All three channels will provide a selection of first-run programming in all territories and DHX expects to add additional content regularly and additional channels in the future.
Michael Hirsh, executive chairman of DHX, says the non-exclusive deal, which offers a favorable revenue-share split (details were not disclosed), was made after two years of conversations with YouTube. “We decided not to advertise our VOD, but to hold out until they offered pay channels or SVOD, because a lot of parents want to be able to select what their kids will watch and they don’t want commercials,” says Hirsh.
“We feel this is the best way to ultimately monetize the library, but of course we’ll continue to sell our programs to traditional broadcasters, as well as some of the new and existing streaming companies like Netflix, Hulu, LOVEfilm and Amazon.”
The ad-free option was also a big factor in Nat Geo Kids’ decision to partner with YouTube on the direct-to-consumer OTT subscription model, says National Geographic Society’s SVP of strategy and development Adam Sutherland.
“The ability to turn off run-of-site video advertising in this area was very compelling to us, and I don’t know that we would have done the deal if we hadn’t been confident that inappropriate advertising wouldn’t show up by surprise,” he says.
YouTube’s Nat Geo Kids channel for kids ages six to 12 is now available in English internationally for US$3.99 per month and offers long and short-form content from the Nat Geo library and original content, including the Weird But True brand, animated series Iggy Arbuckle and documentary/animated hybrid Mama Mirabelle.
Sutherland adds that having access to YouTube’s analytics will help give Nat Geo Kids a clear picture of what programming and formats work.
In addition, plans are in the works to launch a Spanish version of the channel both domestically and in Spanish-speaking markets later this summer.
The Jim Henson Company has also launched a Spanish language YouTube channel, Jim Henson TV para la familia en español, as well as English-language Jim Henson Family TV featuring ad-free full episodes of hit series including Sid the Science Kid and Fraggle Rock for $US2.99 a month or US$24.99 per year.
Henson TV para la familia monthly subscriptions are US$1.99 and a full year comes in at US$17.99.
Channel features include YouTube’s automatic safety mode, curated playlists, behind-the-scenes clips, music videos, podcasts and parenting tips.
Rounding out the new YouTube kids channels are Corus Entertainment’s Treehouse Direct, based on its 24/7 Canadian linear preschool Treehouse and Corus-owned Nelvana’s Official Franklin channel, which houses scores of episodes from the classic preschool series Franklin. Both channels are available only in the US, UK and Australia.