The trend of children’s preferences for mobile screens and digital content over television is on the rise, and streaming services are taking action. They are fighting to gain rights to children’s programming and the revenue derived from subscription fees. Amazon Prime Video, in an effort to grab more market share from streaming giants like Netflix and Hulu, brokered an exclusive deal with PBS Kids, according to a recent press release.
As a result of this agreement, PBS Kids programming will be dropped from any streaming provider outside of Amazon Prime Video. Netflix stands to lose a dozen PBS shows, and Hulu will lose six according to the New York Times. PBS will still broadcast The PBS Kids programming on affiliated channels, PBS’s website, and on the PBS Kids Video app.
This move only affects online streaming of the children’s programming outside of the PBS structure. New episodes of PBS Kids’ shows will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video six months after they premiere on PBS.
Children’s programming is a hotly contested market right now, and even HBO is fighting to scoop up programming away from streaming services. In 2015, HBO secured the rights to air new episodes of Sesame Street for the next five seasons. Nine months after premiere, the new episodes of Sesame Street will air for free on PBS, the network that the beloved children’s series called home for 45 years.
Critics attack agreements like the one with HBO, arguing that underprivileged children will no longer be able to afford programming designed to educate kids on a number of social and health issues in a relatable format. They view the Amazon Prime Video and PBS agreement as a more children friendly one that gets content to kids free first, and streaming for a fee as a second option.
As viewing habits of children continue to trend away from television to streaming digital content, providers will fiercely compete to win rights for more children’s programming, which ultimately leads to more subscription fees paid by parents and potentially increased revenue for the content providers.