Fathers Win in Battle of the Content Streaming Giants

Eli and Ben at Movies StreamingMy son looked at me funny recently while watching an animated movie in our hotel room.

“Daddy,” Elijah asked, “where did the movie go?”

We were watching “The Jungle Book 2″ in a Des Moines hotel when a commercial came on. We don’t have cable television at home, and my sons rely 100 percent on Netflix streaming for their content. So he had no idea what those 30-second videos were promoting bathroom cleaners and Big Macs.

That crossed my mind this week while reading about Amazon’s plan to battle Netflix for the hearts and souls of our children. Perhaps that’s a little dramatic, but Amazon’s decision to target young viewers makes total sense.

Amazon has extended its deal with PBS Digital, adding several popular children’s shows to its Amazon Prime streaming lineup including Caillou, Arthur, Daniels Tiger’s Neighborhood, Dinosaur Train and Wild Kratts … the streamers have concluded that consumers with families are less inclined to switch if their current service has a strong children’s lineup. Children (and their parents) tend to watch multiple episodes of a single program, creating a stronger loyalty to the streamer.

Indeed they do.

My sons are far more interested in television shows that movies at this point, clamoring for “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” when given an hour of screen time. By screen, I mean TV, tablet or iPhone-like device, a difference my parents never had to suss out. Netflix streaming makes that a breeze, and shows stripped of commercials are only about 22-24 minutes long.

Our family subscribes to both Amazon Prime and Netflix, and between the two we’re never at a loss for kiddie fare. We chose the former mostly for its free shipping services, with the streaming content the icing on the cyber-cake. Netflix is the mega-deal for parents – $8 a month for a wealth of kid-friendly programming. Amazon Prime is playing catch-up, content wise, but its real problem is the lack of outlets. My Samsung Blu-ray player streams Netflix, not Amazon material. It’s likely Amazon will start adding new services to compete, but for now we must watch Prime fare on my Kindle Fire.

And then there’s Hulu Plus, a service which offers a similarly skimpy monthly price but includes both current primetime fare and a smattering of movies. You also get those interruptions that my son found so disconcerting – commercials. So many, in fact, that we swiftly ended our Hulu Plus ties.

As for me, between my gig reviewing films and a chockablock schedule I don’t have time for TV. The shows I must watch – “Tosh.0″ and “The Walking Dead” – I can buy per episode via iTunes or similar service. It’s not an ideal solution, but avoiding that gargantuan cable bill each month makes it pretty darn sweet.

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