As streaming video service become ubiquitous in households around the world, it’s natural that the streaming revolution would trickle down to children. PBS launched a dedicated streaming service for children earlier this year which offers such family-friendly favorites as Curious George, Dinosaur Train, and Sesame Street. Netflix, meanwhile, offers subscribers the option to create accounts featuring a child-friendly user interface full of content designed for children and has recently moved into creating interactive stories meant for younger audiences. With the global rise of Netflix and other American streaming services, some international audiences are worried that streaming might usher in another era of American cultural dominance. To that end, the BBC has just announced a massive new investment in children’s content meant to counter the growing influence of the likes of Amazon and Netflix.
The BBC plans to invest PS34m ($43 million USD) in educational content as part of its new Annual Plan. The budget includes plans for streaming video, live online content, blogs and vlogs, games and apps, podcasts, quizzes, and viewing guides. According to the BBC, the move is in direct opposition to the relentless march of American streaming services:
Investment in British content – particularly for the young – is vital, unless we want more of our culture shaped and defined by the rise of West Coast American companies. Our ambition to reinvent the BBC for a new generation is our biggest priority for next year. Every part of the BBC will need to contribute to meeting this challenge.
BBC channels have seen a steady decrease in child viewership as younger audiences have begun gravitating towards online streaming services. Even the BBC’s iPlayer has seen declining user numbers lately, caused in large part by U.S. west coast tech giants like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu. The new investment will take place over three years and is the largest investment in British children’s services in a generation.