Staying nimble in a constantly evolving TV landscape is no easy feat, but it’s just par for the course for Nickelodeon. Along with hinting at plans for a standalone streaming service, the kidcaster continues to roll out digital offerings that cater to children’s changing consumption habits.
Nowhere is this trend more clear than in the preschool space, where kids are spending increasing amounts of time on devices. Nickelodeon itself has released a broad range of digital offerings for under fives, including its VOD platform My Nick Junior and 20 educational preschool apps based on its hit titles.
In December, it launched the Nick Jr App, a free streaming-enabled offering for preschoolers. The app is ad free, with the exception of limited ads that play during the live linear feed of the Nick Jr. channel.
Since launching just over a month-and-a-half ago, uptake has been quick, notes Matthew Evans, SVP of digital at Nickelodeon. “Usage is far exceeding our expectations,” he says. While declining to share usage numbers, he notes that preschoolers are responding well to the new offering. “The app has been one of the top free iPad apps for kids since launch and we have a four-star rating.”
While the Nick Jr. App was first announced at the network’s up-front last March, it has been in the works for some time.
“We knew we wanted to create a separate app for Nick Jr. when we started working on the Nick App,” says Evans, referring to the older-skewing title that has amassed more than 11 million downloads globally. “Preschoolers have different interests and abilities, so we wanted to create an experience that was right for them.”
That meant catering to the younger generation in terms of both content and platform. On the content side, the app features Nickelodeon’s full roster of curriculum-based preschool series, including hits like PAW Patrol, Dora and Friend: Into the City!, Dora the Explorer, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Wallykazam!, Bubble Guppies, Peppa Pig, Peter Rabbit, The Backyardigans, Go, Diego, Go! and Team Umizoomi.
In terms of platform, Nick Jr. had a tablet-first debut, specifically on the iPad. The release strategy is appropriate for this generation of digital natives. According to a recent AVG Technologies study, among US kids ages three to five, 57% can operate at least one app and 47% know how to use a smartphone or tablet. “Preschoolers are comfortable with touch interfaces and they enjoy the mastery that comes with being able to use apps on their own, which this app is designed to do,” explains Evans.
“Based on our research, 30% of preschoolers have access to an iPad,” notes Evans. “The larger screen gives them the opportunity to explore. Starting with the iPad gave us a chance to learn how the app was being used and to refine as needed for the iPhone.”
The tablet proved an ideal format for both viewing and interacting with content.
Notably, alongside the on-demand shows and video clips, it features a range of educational activities, and fun extras like Alphabet buttons that trigger pop-up surprises (think Do Not Touch button).
“The Nick Jr. App appeals to kids because it is not simply a VOD experience – it’s a completely new way to enjoy Nick Jr. that’s simple and fun to use,” Evans contends. “Preschoolers–and their parents–like to enjoy a variety of content on demand. “Our blend of funny short-form videos, full episodes, the live linear feed and interactive activities and educational moments gives them the variety they want.”