Letting small children loose onto YouTube with an iPad can be a disaster waiting to happen. You never know what their searches will produce – from the merely rude fart choruses to downright lewd. And yet this must happen more often than we suppose.
Since the earliest smartphones with mobile video, one of the dirty little secrets of these platforms is that parents use them as babysitters and kid pacifiers. Back in the day of Verizon’s first VCast phones and service, Cartoon Network and Children's Television Workshop clips became unexpected hits. Apparently, many parents got into the habit of handing their new 3G cell phone to a fidgety kid waiting in an airport to keep her quiet. Suddenly SpongeBob Squarepants and Grover are climbing the VCast charts.
It is with this early lesson in mind that video search and discovery engine MeFeedia launches its Kids Videos app on both iPad and Kindle Fire tablet platforms this week. The free apps aggregate -- and more importantly, curate -- kid-appropriate content from the Web. MeFeedia CEO Frank Sinton tells Mobile Marketing Daily the inspiration for this approach was both personal and professional. “My three kids are big iPad and iPhone users, so I have experienced the ‘YouTube as default install with not-so-good parental controls problem firsthand.”
A simple TV interface lets the young viewer swipe through a never-ending line of videos, from cartoons to educational clips. MeFeedia says that its engine uses genre filtering and view-through rates in the app to help determine what videos the viewer is most likely to want to watch next.
The apps allow the viewer to like or dislike a video to give the engine more feedback. And because kids love repetition, the interface also lets them capture favorites to Watch Later.
Sinton says that for now the app is both free to users and ad- free. “Right now we are focusing on the app and curating great content for the kids.” When they do turn to monetizing the app, it likely will be in direct partnership with the content providers themselves.
MeFeedia provides services for major video partner/distributors such as ABC, Hulu, CBS, Vimeo, the WB, and others. The company is using content from many of these partners for its Kids app as well as hand-picked selections from YouTube.