As COVID-19 and protests against racial inequality drove kids and parents online in search of information to explain and entertain, broadcasters had to rapidly respond with offerings that helped audiences make sense of their changing world. To support families, PBS KIDS rolled out free at-home learning resources during the pandemic lockdowns. The new content drove increased traffic to the tune of 30% growth in streaming, a 40% increase in game play, and 70% more downloads for the PBS KIDS Games and Video apps.
The US pubcaster launched PBS KIDS Talk About digital shorts, which modelled parent-child conversations around topics such as feelings, race and racism, and families and relationships. It also expanded its accessible digital offerings with games and apps that adapt based on an individual’s learning progression and approaches to problem-solving, creating a system of tailored feedback.
During the summer, PBS KIDS teamed up with Random House Children’s Books and Michelle Obama on a new YouTube series called Mondays with Michelle Obama. Over the course of four weeks, kids were invited to tune in and listen to the former First Lady read popular children’s books.
Rounding out the year, PBS KIDS partnered with New York pubcaster WNET and global nonprofit Education Development Center to launch a text-based pilot program that encourages low-income families and Spanish speakers—historically under-served communities in the US—to participate in hands-on science and math activities.
“This has been such an unusual year, and it’s been amazing to see how many families have turned to our digital platforms and content to keep their kids engaged and learning during their extended time at home,” says Sara DeWitt, VP of PBS KIDS Digital. “I’m so proud of the PBS KIDS team for being poised and ready to meet these needs, and for producing unique and joy-filled experiences for kids during stressful times.”