You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Of YouTube’s Niche Menagerie, Only Kid TV Might Be Hit

Most of video site’s 53 subscription-only channels are narrowly focused

With big media congloms absent from YouTube’s lineup of 53 Internet pay channels, children’s programming could be the sole category in the bunch that has any chance of ringing the cash register.

For starters, consumers say they would be most interested in paying for YouTube channels from mainstream networks and studios, said IBB Consulting partner Jonathan Weitz, whose media clients include cablers, broadcasters, studios and digital firms.

“Consumers want to continue paying for the kinds of high-quality content they’ve come to expect on TV,” Weitz said. IBB surveyed 250 U.S. online users in April to gauge perceptions of YouTube’s subscription-video plans.

If that’s the main indicator of success, then the kids’ content in YouTube’s pay-channel initial batch may be the only group to fit the bill — especially with families looking to economize by canceling cable or satellite TV service.

Sesame Workshop, one of the biggest and most-trusted TV programming providers for younger children, has signed on for the YouTube initiative. However, the nonprofit org hasn’t launched its pay channel on the site, which is set to include full episodes of “Sesame Street” and other skeins.

Other partners in the kid sector with a TV pedigree include National Geographic’s NatGeo Kids ($3.99 per month), which features nature programming and animated fare, and DHX Media, whose library includes such popular shows as “Caillou,” “Inspector Gadget” and “Yo Gabba Gabba!” and has a distribution deal to supply CBS’s Cookie Jar TV weekend morning block.

Canadian studio Nelvana Enterprises, a supplier to Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and other nets, is offering the Treehouse Direct channel on YouTube ($3.99 per month), with animated series including “Babar,” “Little Bear,” “Franklin & Friends” and “Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends.”

The Jim Henson Co.’s family channel ($2.99 monthly) will provide skeins including “Fraggle Rock,” “Sid the Science Kid” and “Pajanimals.” And Baby First TV — which is carried as linear network on DirecTV and Dish Network — is going direct on YouTube for $1.99 monthly for a slate of programming aimed at babies and toddlers.

Malik Ducard, YouTube’s director of content partnerships, called out the kids’ category when he was asked on a call with reporters which genre was best positioned to do well in the model. “I think it’s a great category,” he said. “As a parent, I’m excited about it.”

Of the non-kid channels, YouTube’s lineup is filled with special-interest video selections, including horror films, how-to videos, obscure indie movies, gay and lesbian lifestyle and British TV shows.

The premium channel from Ultimate Fighting Championship, a provider of mixed-martial arts pay-per-view events through cable and satellite providers and has a deal with Fox to carry live matches, could prove to be popular with its relatively big fan base. YouTube had pursued WWE, the wrestling entertainment giant, for the pay-channel launch, but WWE opted to refrain for now; instead, the YouTube lineup includes TNA’s Impact Wrestling channel.

Other reasons YouTube’s pay channels for children could actually work: The channels are all ad-free, an important concern for parents. In addition, younger kids don’t particularly care if a show they’re watching is older — as long as it captures their interest.

“Animation generally is evergreen — it doesn’t date itself,” said Michael Hirsh, exec chairman of DHX, which is launching three channels.

DHX’s three channels under the YouTube paid subscriber model, each priced at $2.99 per month, are: DHX Junior, a preschool channel with shows including “Doodlebops” and “Busytown Mysteries”; DHX Kids, aimed at kids 2 to 12, featuring “Sabrina” the animated series, “Trollz,” and “Horseland”; and DHX Retro, aimed at a crossover aud of both kids and adults, with “Inspector Gadget,” “Paddington Bears,” “Super Mario Bros.” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

In addition to its CBS deal, DHX also provides programming  to Netflix. Hirsh said the company’s off-TV deals don’t conflict with its arrangement with the Eye. “It’s another choice consumers will have,” he said.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • UMC-Marriage-Boot-Camp-Hip-Hop-Edition-WE-tv

    WE tv, UMC Reteam on Bonus Content for 'Marriage Boot Camp: Hip Hop Edition' Season 2

    AMC Networks is touting the benefits of cross-pollinating content and promos across its TV and streaming properties. In the latest bit of synergy, the programmer’s WE tv announced the continuation of its partnership with sister company UMC (Urban Movie Channel) to produce a second season of “confessional” episodes for WE tv reality series “Marriage Boot [...]

  • Google Play Pass

    Google Launches Play Pass, Its $4.99 Apple Arcade Competitor

    Google officially launched its Play Pass game and app subscription service Monday morning. Play Pass gives users access to more than 350 premium games and apps for $4.99 per month. The launch comes just a few days after Apple unveiled it own game subscription service Apple Arcade. Apps and games included in this subscription do [...]

  • ESPN - Always Late With Katie

    ESPN Inks Facebook Deal to Bring Exclusive Shows and Content to Watch Service

    Disney’s ESPN is looking to expand digital reach across Facebook, under a new deal to distribute exclusive digital shows and content on the social giant’s Facebook Watch video platform. At launch, ESPN’s Facebook Watch lineup includes additional segments from “Always Late With Katie Nolan,” the late-night sports/comedy show premiering this week on ESPN2; exclusive versions [...]

  • David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Carolyn

    Emmys 2019: 'Game of Thrones,' Jharrel Jerome Top Social-Media Buzz

    HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Jharrel Jerome, star of Netflix’s “When They See Us,” were among the leaders of social conversation during Sunday’s 71st Primetime Emmy Awards on Facebook and Twitter. “GOT” picked up 12 Emmys in total for its final season, including outstanding drama series, while series star Peter Dinklage picked up his fourth [...]

  • Oprah Winfrey

    Oprah Sets First Book-Club Pick for New Apple TV Plus Series

    Oprah Winfrey’s interviews with authors of her book club selections will be featured exclusively on Apple’s forthcoming Apple TV Plus service, and she’s announced the first book selection for the project: “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Apple teamed with Winfrey for Apple TV Plus series “Oprah’s Book Club,” premiering Nov. 1 when the service [...]

  • NBC LX - Valari Staab

    NBCU Launches Digital News Outlet LX to Reach People Who Don't Watch Local TV (EXCLUSIVE)

    NBCUniversal’s local TV division is taking a new tack to reach younger audiences that don’t tune in to its traditional newscasts. On Monday, NBCU’s 42-station local TV group is launching LX — a digital news brand that will produce original content for online distribution and, in 2020, via a live-streaming internet network and multicast over-the-air [...]

  • 'OpenAP' CEO David Levy Sees New

    'OpenAP' CEO David Levy Charts New Course

    A consortium built by some of the nation’s biggest media outlets to win new kinds of advertising is quickly changing its course. Founded in 2017 by Viacom, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner, OpenAP was initially designed to help marketers figure out ways to buy advertising based on reaching segments of audience that aren’t defined [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content