Italy’s state broadcaster RAI is reacting to the country’s coronavirus crisis by significantly increasing the quantity of content for kids and teens playing on its channels in an effort to entertain and educate the millions of students that are holed up at home.
With schools closed until at least April 3 in the country that is suffering the worst coronavirus outbreak in Europe with a current death toll of 366 — the highest outside mainland China –– broadcasters, and also streamers, are fast becoming part of the collective survival effort.
RAI has announced it has carved out a much broader slot for children and teen fare on its generalist RAI2 channel that is now offering a slew of animation shows such as “Wendy” from U.K. studio Red Kite and live action series like Germany’s “Burg Schreckenstein,” as well as lots of local productions.
RAI’s dedicated thematic channels for children Rai Yoyo, for preschoolers, and RAI Gulp, for older kids, are stepping up their offer of educational content, including animated series such as “Peppa Pig” shown in a version used to learn English as well as docs and other programs on art, music, history and science.
The pubcaster’s pre-existing RAI Scuola channel for educational assistance is fast producing new tailor-made programming and promoting online schooling initiatives in tandem with the country’s education ministry as Italy’s shuttered schools begin to experiment with e-learning.
RAI’s free streaming platforms RAI Play and Rai Play Yoyo are curating their children’s offerings by creating new dedicated sections where kids’ content is assembled by genres and sub-genres to promote more interaction with school age audiences.
RAI is also using its channels in tandem with social media “to provide children with correct information as well as helping them to manage anxiety and stress,” the pubcaster said in a statement.
Meanwhile premium streamers in Italy are also joining the effort, albeit with an eye on smartly marketing their product. Amazon Prime Video on Monday announced they are offering their service for free in the country’s so-called “red zone” comprising the regions of Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, where the government has imposed a lockdown and people’s movements are constricted. Italians in those regions can simply go online and access Amazon Prime for free automatically. And the same goes for Telecom Italia’s TIM streamer and Mediaset’s Infinity TV platform.