Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Amazon, Netflix Keep Chasing Your Kids

dinosaur trainWhat’s that? You’d like to park your kids in front of a screen and let them stream video while you do something else?

Amazon is happy to oblige: It has added a bunch of new kids’ shows from PBS to its Prime Instant Video collection. So, if you’re a Prime member, you can now stream “Caillou” and “Dinosaur Train” for free.*

What’s that? You have Netflix, and you’d like to use that service to occupy your offspring? Reed Hastings can help, too.

His streaming video service is adding “Mako Mermaids,” which Netflix says is a spinoff of something called “H2O — Just Add Water,” which Netflix says is a “Global Smash Hit Series” for eight- to 12-year-olds. Which I cannot verify, because my kids are still in their “Dinosaur Train” phase.

The main difference in the two announcements, which come within a day of each other,** is that Amazon’s newest programs aren’t exclusive to the service, but Netflix’s new programming is. The main point: Both streaming services are pushing hard to play up their utility as a cheap/free babysitting services.

Last month, Netflix added a new slug of Disney shows; a few weeks after that, Amazon added a bunch of Viacom shows that Netflix used to have. But I have a sneaking suspicion that when it comes to kids’ stuff, the particulars of each company’s catalog doesn’t matter that much, at least to their youngest audience, who are likely content to watch anything, on any screen, for really, really long periods of time. (Just guessing!)

* Amazon has also added other PBS shows, like “Masterpiece,” and assorted Ken Burns documentaries.
** As seems to happen with dueling Netflix/Amazon programming announcements an awful lot these days.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald