Startups

Nickelodeon Vets Debut BatteryPOP, A Kid-Safe, Kid-Programmed Online Network

Comment

YouTube may be a popular destination for kids, but parents know that it’s not a kid-friendly one. One innocent video of Elmo singing leads to others of him cursing and slinging racial slurs. That’s why two Nickelodeon vets have created batteryPOP – an online and mobile destination where children ages six to eleven can safely browse through cartoons, comedy, music videos and more, sending their favorites to the top of the heap by “popping” them – a mechanism which could one day pave the way to make batteryPOP a farm league for the major networks, like Nick or the Cartoon Channel, for example.

The idea for batteryPOP comes from Greg Alkalay and Taso Mastorakis, who spent years at Nickelodeon on a variety of projects, including writing on-air promos, handling creative advertising, and working with content creators, among other things. The two met several years ago, when they were both tasked with “Nick Extras,” a team that worked to fill breaks in between shows with “bumpers” – original content like animations or other low-budget videos with real kids, or kids and graphics combined.

“What we were seeing is that there was a lot of interest from viewers to watch these little bumpers. They were getting a lot of buzz on messages boards. We were seeing retention over commercial breaks go up,” says Alkalay. “Our taste for short-form content started there, and when Nickelodeon stopped doing them, we wanted to do more.”

The two discussed the idea for some time, earnestly beginning in 2011. By the next year, Alkalay was ready to take the leap. The two had gotten to the point where there were so many ideas, so many content creators struggling to find traction on YouTube, and so many who were stuck in the development process with networks, that it made sense to help them by building a service that could connect an audience of children with that unseen content. An audience which they understand very well, in fact. Alkalay spent 12 years at Nick, and Mastorakis was at Nick owner Viacom for seven.

On batteryPOP’s website, which launched a little over a month ago, kids are the arbiters of what’s good, says Alkalay. As they browse through the various channels and shows – most content is short-form, under five minutes – they have the ability to “pop” the videos they like, which is the equivalent of a “thumbs up” recommendation. These “pops” show on a kid’s profile page, where their friends can see them, too.

batterypop1

There are currently around 30 creators on batteryPOP, and 50 or 60 hours’ worth of content.

Kids can also “charge” a video which will allow them to follow that show, in order to receive updates on their profile, and even interact with the show’s creators, in terms of giving feedback.

On mobile, the company has partnered with Weeblets on a pair of mobile apps for iOS and Android, but these, the founders explain, don’t offer the full experience of the batteryPOP website. They do, however, plan to release their own mobile and tablet apps in early 2014, built in-house.

Unlike some other “curated” video collections aimed at children, like Happly or Totlol, only around half of batteryPOP’s content is sourced from sites like YouTube or VEVO. The other half is original content batteryPOP hosts itself, and sourced through the founders’ long-established industry connections.

batterypop2

“Through popping – sharing [videos] on their personal page – we hope to help creators build an audience around their content, so we can kind of act like a minor league for the networks,” explains Alkalay. “You saw it happen with that web series Fred that got popular on YouTube, and then Nickelodeon picked it up. I think that’s really just the beginning of what’s going to start happening,” he says.

Longer-term, batteryPOP would like to take a small percentage of any deals they help establish between TV networks and videos that “pop” on its network. But in the immediate future, the company is working on production projects for brands to generate revenue. These videos will also be added to batteryPOP’s site, and marked as sponsored. They may also later activate advertising, after reaching a certain level of users.

BatteryPOP won’t be the only online network of sorts competing for projects that aren’t making it to TV for whatever reason, though. Other “networks” like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Instant Video are also moving into original programming, some of it aimed at children – like Netflix with its new Marvel superhero deal, or Amazon with its own kids’ pilots, greenlit by viewers. But batteryPOP’s advantage is not only its singular focus and content pipeline – it’s also free.

New York-based BatteryPOP is currently bootstrapped, with some friends and family funding in tow. Next year, the company may raise a round of outside funding.

More TechCrunch

Ahead of the AI safety summit kicking off in Seoul, South Korea later this week, its co-host the United Kingdom is expanding its own efforts in the field. The AI…

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

13 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

3 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities