Author(s): Peter Bryer
YouTube is certainly among contenders for the future of television, and Google is reaching out to a new generation of viewers.
Today, Google will introduce YouTube Kids — a child-centric smartphone and tablet app that filters out nasty Internet material and pulls in age-appropriate entertainment and educational videos. YouTube Kids is part of Google's larger strategy to cater to audiences under the age of 12 with a simplified interface that includes voice input and adjusted content.
Most markets have very specific privacy rules for children, so Google won't track their viewing patterns or require a login, and users of the app can't upload videos or leave comments. Google is expected to accept adverts allowing marketers to reach a very precise audience. The app is part of a growing trend of services customised for children, and the ability to cordon off content by catering to kids is something that other big brands are addressing: Netflix has a Just for Kids app, and Amazon offers a Fire HD Kids Edition tablet that provides parents with the power of prevention.
The introduction of YouTube Kids underscores the growing importance of mobile devices in entertainment. CCS Insight had termed this the "continuum of screens", but we now see that it can better be described as a "continuum of experiences" as content becomes screen-agnostic. The model of numbered channels and exact programming times is fading as services like Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and YouTube prime younger generations away from traditional broadcasting. It's a warm-up for cord cutting with some tough and long-term implications for cable and satellite operators.
CCS Insight believes that more online subsets will come from companies like Facebook and Microsoft, filtering and adjusting content and services to build a brand among specific groups of customers. For parents of young children, the creation of a safety Net will be another distraction from traditional media.