HBO is making a bigger push into family-friendly content with new Kids and Family sections in its streaming video apps.
These sections will offer quick access to movies and shows rated Y, Y7, G, and PG. Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Pinky Dinky Doo will also be featured here, following a deal with Sesame Workshop last year that gives HBO an exclusivity window on those shows. HBO appears to be using the “Kids” label on mobile devices and the web, while offering a “Family” section on connected TVs and streaming boxes.
On phones and tablets, HBO Kids will include a parental-lock feature, preventing kids from accessing the main menu and search options. Connected TVs will instead have PIN entry to prevent kids from watching anything above a certain age rating.
Although HBO already offers a “Family” channel as part of its cable TV package, there hasn’t been an equivalent on HBO’s streaming apps. With a new season of Sesame Street debuting on January 16, HBO may finally feel like it has enough video to justify a separate section.
Why this matters: Reach to families with children is becoming a lot more important for streaming-video services. Netflix has offered a Kids section since 2011, and Hulu followed in 2012. YouTube created its own Kids app for mobile devices last year, with parental controls and limits on the types of ads that appear. As TechCrunch notes, these offerings could be a way for streaming services to keep subscriptions going year-round, even when hot shows like Game of Thrones go on break.
Still, it’s unlikely that HBO can offer that kind of appeal with just Sesame Street and a movie selection. It’ll be interesting to see if the new Kids and Family sections mark the start of an arms race between HBO and Netflix for family-friendly fare.