Amazon and Netflix Are Going After Your Kids

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Amazon (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) are both looking to up the ante when it comes to original content programming that grabs the so-called binge watching momentum. So, what better age group to satisfy than kids?

Amazon said Thursday that the first of three of its original children's programming series will premiere later this month, available for streaming through Prime Instant Video and via Amazon's Kindle FreeTime app. Amazon is launching the first six episodes of the animated series, Tumble Leaf, on May 23; Creative Galaxy, an interactive art adventure series, launches on June 27 and Annedroids, a live-action series, debuts on July 25. Additional episodes of the shows will follow later this year, the company said in a press release.

The educational programming is designed to "inspire kids to learn through creativity, imagination and play," Amazon said in a press release. Both Tumble Leaf and Creative Galaxy are geared toward preschool-aged children) while Annedroids is targeted to children ages four to seven. The shows are available only through Amazon Prime, its $99-a-year shipping and streaming service.

Amazon noted the preschool programming is being developed with the support of Dr. Alice Wilder, an educational psychologist and the producer and director of the popular series Blue's Clues and Blue's Room.

"We share the belief that creativity and curiosity are muscles that need to be exercised, refined and nourished to provide children with the skills they need to succeed in today's rapidly changing world," Wilder said, who is also the educational advisor for Amazon Studios' kids programming. "With an educational system that is focused on test-preparedness, literacy and numeracy, many parents find their kids faced with a curriculum gap. By combining core content with creativity and play, we will be able to help parents fill that gap."

Tumble Leaf "follows Fig the Fox and his best friend Stick as they discover adventure, friendship and love around every bend," Amazon noted. The show focuses on promoting exploration and scientific thinking through play.

Creative Galaxy's "characters Arty and Epiphany travel around the galaxy to solve problems with art, inspiring creative thinking through crafts, music and dance," it says. The show aims to give watchers "real-life tools they need to re-create Arty's experience, a live-action piece at the end of each animated episode will take viewers through the craft project that Arty showcased in the galaxy."

Annedroids is about a "young female genius, her human friends, android assistants and the amazing scientific discoveries they make while undertaking the biggest experiment of them all: growing up," Amazon says.

The three children's shows were a part of Amazon's first group of pilots. Amazon said in March that it had greenlighted an additional six shows, three of which were also geared toward children. Among the approved pilots are Wishenpoof!, about a girl with magic wishes and Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street, about a boy named Gortimer.

Amazon is looking to go head to head in the streaming video arena against Netflix (NFLX) in both original programming as well as top content deals. Last month, Amazon inked a deal with Time Warner's (TWX) HBO for older, yet popular shows including The Sopranos and early season of True Blood.

But Netflix is still the leader when it comes to streaming video, with its 35 million and growing domestic subscribers. A report by research firm Sandvine said Netflix accounted for 34.2% of downstream traffic during peak traffic time so far this year, up from 31.6% in the second half of 2013.

Netflix is also eyeing opportunity in children's programming. Netflix announced in March three new original kids series in partnership with DreamWorks Animation (DWA) that will debut on the streaming service later this year. The shows are spin offs of popular movies, include Madagascar's King Julien in his very own show, Puss in Boots, and Veggie Tales in the House. The kids' series join Netflix's first original children's series, Turbo FAST, an expansion of the 2013 DreamWorks movie Turbo. Turbo Fast launched its second season on April 4, 2014.

Netflix recently upped its pricing model. It will now charge new customers a monthly fee of $8.99, while existing customers will stay at the $7.99 price for a period of two years. Netflix said during its first-quarter earnings call that the incremental revenue will be used for further content acquisition.

--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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