Children six and under sit through approximately 2 hours of TV and DVDs a day, according to Kids Health. It only gets worse as they get older, with those between 8 and 18 watching almost 4 hours each day. Parents deal with the added frustration of knowing many of the shows their children watch are low quality at best, and damaging at worst.
Everyone has different opinions on what makes a quality children’s show, but most agree that things like “SpongeBob” are exceedingly strange, if not inappropriate. Parents who long for the days of “Sesame Street” and “Mr. Rogers” may have something to look forward to, however. Streaming services like Amazon and Netflix appear to have picked up on the need for more quality kid’s programming, and are working to deliver it in their own unique ways.
This makes sense, as 80 percent of U.S. homes are connected to the Internet and streaming use continues to grow. According to www.InternetProviders.com, high-speed services like Google Fiber are moving to new cities like Austin, where larger bandwidth should further encourage streaming use.
Amazon’s new pilots
Amazon is encouraging its viewers to help decide which pilots to move into full production. It is rare for viewers to have so much control over what comes to their screens, and parents should take advantage of it while it lasts.
Amazon has released six different pilots for families to review. Some of these shows include:
“Sarah Solves It” — According to the L.A. Times, this show comes from the creators of “Blue’s Clues” and "Arthur." This 2D computer-animated show follows Sara, a young New York City girl, as she solves problems encountered in her day-to-day life.
“Tumbleaf” — This show combines animation with puppetry to create a unique charm not found in regular animation. The show follows the exploits of Fig, a small blue fox, and his caterpillar Stick.
“Teeny Tiny Dogs” — This show comes from Howard Baker (of “Rugrats” fame) and Lisa Henson (of the Jim Henson Co.) The actual show will consist primarily of puppetry, even though the pilot has many live-action clips. As the name implies, the show follows little dogs as they learn life lessons.
Netflix is taking a different route towards producing its own children’s lineup. It is beginning with an offshoot of DreamWorks Animation’s new movie, “Turbo”. The Netflix show will follow the main character of the film, a racing snail named Turbo, and his friends as they compete. Titled “Turbo F.A.S.T.”, the show will begin airing in December.
According to KidScreen, DreamWorks is also releasing an app called “Turbo Racing League” that allows players to compete for up to $1 million in cash prizes. Adding a new streaming series into the feature-film/game mix may become a common recipe, depending on how successful the Netflix show proves to be.
Streaming video services like Netflix and Amazon are taking a big leap by creating their own programming. Whether such efforts will prove successful in the long-term only time will tell. What is certain, however, is that families should take advantage of opportunities to determine available programming while they can. It may be a while before the format Amazon is using will come around again.