For parents worried about what weird or inappropriate stuff their kids might stumble across on YouTube or other online video apps, a new option is coming from Common Sense Media in early 2021.
Sensical, a free, ad-supported streaming service, is the first for-profit venture from Common Sense Media. It’s targeted to come out in the early part of the second quarter, stocked with 15,000 curated short-form episodes and videos — with Common Sense guaranteeing parents safe space for kids to explore online videos.
Common Sense Networks, the L.A.-based venture the not-for-profit org established this summer, has signed licensing deals with more than two dozen partners for Sensical, including brand-name children’s content producers Sesame Workshop, Nelvana and Mother Goose Club.
It’s a bid to give parents peace of mind and relieve them from having to be a “hall monitor” to peer over their kids’ shoulders to see if what they’re watching is appropriate, said Eric Berger, CEO of Common Sense Networks.
“By and large, parents don’t trust how short-form video is presented to their young children,” he said. “What’s we’re offering is ‘healthy streaming’ — it’s age-appropriate and aligned to social, emotional and cognitive levels. Based on methodology and expertise of Common Sense Media.”
Content on Sensical, to be available on the web at sensicaltv.com and on other platforms, will be organized in three categories: 2 Up (ages 2-4); 5 Up (ages 5-7); and 8 Up (ages 8-12).
Every single frame of video included in Sensical will be vetted and rated by human moderators who are trained in child development research and safety protocols based on Common Sense Media’s framework, according to Berger.
Unlike algorithm-driven video platforms, Sensical will group content together thematically in hundreds of categories like “adventure,” “experiments” and “dinosaurs.”
“Whatever your passion is, you can safely go down the rabbit hole,” said Berger, who before Common Sense Networks was a Sony Pictures Television exec and general manager of Sony’s Crackle streaming service.
On the ad front, Berger said Sensical will go above and beyond current laws and standards related to kid-targeted marketing. It will serve less than 7 minutes of ads per hour, and Sensical will provide a clear line of distinction between commercial and noncommercial content, he added — and it won’t include any sponsored content.
Ad categories that are kosher for Sensical will include apparel, consumer products, baby care, healthy food and beverages, pet care, and educational gaming products, Berger said.
The content coming to Sensical comes from a laundry list of studios and producers. Those include digital-first creators like Azevedo Studios (Funtastic TV), Bounce Patrol, Hevesh5, Sockeye Media (Mother Goose Club), Cosmic Kids Yoga, New Sky Kids, Skyship Entertainment Company (Super Simple Songs), StacyPlays (DogCraft) and Whistle (No Days Off).
Studio and distribution partners include: ABC Commercial (The Wiggles), Awesome Forces (The Aquabats), Big Big Holdings (It’s A Big Big World), Boat Rocker Studios (Ollie The Boy Who Became What He Ate), CBC & Radio-Canada Distribution, Hoho Entertainment (Shane the Chef, Cloudbabies), Jetpack Distribution (Yoko, Kitty is Not a Cat), Millimages (64 Zoo Lane, Molang), Nelvana (Mike The Knight, Bakugan), 9 Story Distribution International (Ruby’s Studio, Zerby Derby), One Animation (Rob The Robot, Oddbods), Sesame Workshop (Pinky Dinky Doo, Sesame Studios), Serious Lunch (Operation Ouch, Art Ninja), Studio 100 (Maya the Bee, Small Potatoes) and ZooMoo Networks Pte Ltd (ZooMooPedia).
The service also will feature the Sensical Parent Zone, a dashboard tool allowing parents to review and manage all of their kid’s viewing activity, including seeing reports on what and how long their kids watch as well as the unique social, emotional and cognitive skills they are learning from the videos they are viewing. Parents also can select a specific age range of what content their kinds can watch.
According to Berger, Sensical will be available on iOS and Android devices, smart TVs, streaming devices and live-streaming channels on major OTT platforms.
Common Sense Networks currently has under 20 staff, but Berger said he’s still building out the team ahead of the Sensical launch. The company has been certified as a B Corporation, a designation for companies that “balance profit and purpose” by meeting standards for social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability.