YouTube is launching a new app for children on Monday. It’s called YouTube Kids and will air original episodes of TV shows that have been produced specifically for a younger audience, The Verge reports.The video sharing platform is also going to include videos from the Kids Channel section and will even allow parents to set timers to stop their children staring at the screen for too long.
To begin with, YouTube Kids is going to be released on Android, The Verge explains. That isn’t surprising given the company is owned by Google. It will roll out on smartphones and tablets via download on Google Play.
The reason YouTube has decided to release the extension is probably because videos aimed at kids have increased by 200% year-on-year in terms of viewing time. Its young audience is only growing, so it makes sense for YouTube to tap into the market, break out a specific stream of content and deliver what the kids of today want.
Last month, Vine launched its own child-friendly service after parents told the video sharing network that kids love it. Clearly, there’s a lot of money to be made in offering sanitised versions of the apps, where material is safe and driven for a particular age bracket. It’s likely we’ll see a lot more of this in the coming months.
The Verge notes that YouTube’s model is pretty simple: The app features just four icons (for shows, music, learning, and exploring). On the homepage there will be a bunch of the most popular videos of the day. It’s big, easy to navigate, and colourful. Contributors to YouTube Kids include National Geographic Kids, Thomas & Friends, and LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow.
Right now, the Kids Channel looks much the same as any other YouTube content. The kids-only service will be much clearer for a young audience.
The app is set for release at the youth entertainment event Kidscreen Summit on February 23, where YouTube executive Malik Ducard will unveil it officially. Product manager Shimrit Ben-Yair told USA Today that it’s something parents have been asking for — “a better place for our kids.”
It’s not known how much money YouTube spent building the app, though, or how much it expects to make — at least at first. In terms of advertising, that remains uncertain. But the Wall Street Journal has speculated on the idea and says it’s an area under discussion. No doubt YouTube could really cash in here.