Amid COVID-19 school closures in Japan, the US and the UK, national pubcasters NHK, PBS and the BBC are expanding their kids programming initiatives to help curtail public anxiety, entertain and inform.
In Japan, TV channel NHK Educational is leveraging newly created subchannels and websites to provide a range of kids programs under the NHK for School banner. This will include morning and afternoon shows that promote healthy lifestyles and encourage children to sing, dance and do physical exercise. The NHK for School website (pictured) has also enhanced its offerings by featuring news programs with information for kids.
On the SVOD side of its business, NHK has redesigned its services, including its upcoming streamer NHK Plus, to be accessible to as many people as possible. The platform will launch on April 1.
Meanwhile, NHK’s satellite TV channels are highlighting science and history programming for students and content that can be co-viewed by kids and their parents. And, as a result of many graduation ceremonies being cancelled, the pubcaster is also launching a live graduation-themed special entitled Minna No Sotsugyoshiki (A Graduation Ceremony for Everyone) that will broadcast on TV and radio on March 24. For audio content, NHK radio has created new program segments that invite kids to share messages and requests.
In the US, PBS KIDS is offering a variety of free resources to support families, including its PBS KIDS 24/7 channel, video app and games app as per usual. A daily PBS KIDS newsletter is available, starting this week, for parents that offers content, activities and tip to keep kids learning and entertained if they’re home from school. It also has the PBS LearningMedia free resource for preschoolers up to grade 12 to support distance learning.
As for the BBC, it is set to launch a new iPlayer experience for kids with more educational content, and is adding more Newsround content to CBBC, as well as expanding its BBC Bitesize content.
The changes these pubcasters are making are similar to ones made by Italian pubcaster RAI last week, which released new kids content across its channels in the coming weeks and launched a new family-friendly block on its Rai2 channel.