Netflix announced its first original children's series productions with Indian and South Korean partners at the MipJunior event in Cannes this week. Andy Yeatman, kids and family director, also gave some insight on the importance of children's content to the global streaming service. The two new productions, Mighty Little Bheem and Yoohoo & Friends, are based on established kids characters in each territory and will be launched in 2018.
Both original series will be targeted at a preschool audience. Mighty Little Bheem will be produced with Indian animation studio Green Gold Animation and is based on a polular comic book character, Chota Bheem. Korea's Aurora World will co-produce Yoohoo & Friends. According to Yeatman, Netflix it had more viewers watching kids content outside of the US than inside the US in the last quarter. While viewing of children's programming has increased 13% in the US, outside the US viewing increased by 61%. In the kids space, Netflix considers Google’s YouTube to be its biggest competitor.
According to the Online and on-demand children’s content report published by IHS Markit, Asia is the fastest growing online children’s content market, in terms of the number of new service launches every year. We expect the rapid digital development in the region to continue with more widespread adoption of digital devices and consumer embrace of on-demand viewing.
Asia is a mobile-first region. Of all the services that offer kids content we identified by the end of 2016, we found that 86% were mobile device-compatible. Smartphone penetration was 90% in South Korea in 2016. Though penetration was only 30% in India, we expect it to grow to 55% in 2018 due to the rise of middle class and the ubiquity of affordable smartphones.
While kids content is available on generalist video on-demand platforms in South Korea such as Oksusu, POOQ and Tving, there are hardly any video on-demand services specialising in kids. In India, leading broadcasters have introduced their own kids-targeting online video platforms in order to create a safer environment for the young audience, including Viacom18’s VOOT Kids and Sony’s LIV Kids. With a population of 1.3 billion, India still has room for kids content to grow. To fill in the market gap, independent kids-targeting video service Lattu Kids was launched in March 2017.
In Asia, Netflix has launched numerous Japanese original animation productions, and it is not entirely new to original kids content in Korea. In October 2016, it commissioned Treehouse Detectives, a co-production between local producer Enpop (a Sunwoo Animation’s company) and Saban Brands, to be developed as a Netflix original for a premiere in June 2018.
Staying true to its “locally produced, globally distributed” strategy, Netflix does not only target the local market but is eyeing a much wider audience base. In launching local original kids content, it opted for established intellectual properties in Yoohoo & Friends and Chota Bheem. The success of Korean pop culture has proven that language barriers do not stop content from traveling; furthermore, Indian content is fairly well-received in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
Though Asia is in the age of advertising video on-demand, we expect an increasing kids content to be consumed on subscription video on-demand services due to the ability to provide age-appropriate content in a safer environment, restrictions on kids-targeted advertising and the rollout of more premium kids content.