If you have a young child, then you probably know the name Toca Boca. The popular kids app maker has produced games that have been downloaded more than 130 million times in 215 countries, and have 10 million monthly active users. Today, Toca Boca is moving into video. The company is now launching Toca TV, a new $4.99 per month subscription service offering kid-friendly videos, original cartoons and shows, as well as tools that let kids make their own videos with silly effects.
Toca TV will feature a collection of handpicked kid-friendly videos, including those produced in-house as well as from over 75 other content producers, like those featuring Minecraft gameplay, DIY crafts, recipes, songs and more. Video partners include Broadband TV (BBTV), DreamworksTV, AwesomenessTV, Studio71, and Freedom! – all of whom licensed videos the service.
There are thousands of videos available at launch, and the service will add more videos on a weekly basis, the company notes.
While a number of kids’ video aggregators already exist, Toca Boca’s potential upper-hand is that it’s tapping into its already familiar world of characters in order to create the original video content for Toca TV. Kids today are spending hours engaged with Toca’s apps, whether that’s designing outfits for characters, cutting their hair in a “salon” app, hosting tea parties, making music, or even creating and interacting with entire worlds, as in the Toca Life series, or Toca Nature.
These characters are featured in Toca Boca’s animated originals, which arrive alongside other original kid-hosted shows.
In addition, Toca Boca may also be able to tap into parents’ concerns with YouTube as a safe place for their children to watch videos.
Though obviously a much more sizable network in terms of viewers, YouTube has had several missteps when it comes to its children’s streaming video vertical, YouTube Kids. Consumer advocacy groups have attacked YouTube Kids for relying too heavily on technology over manual curation to make sure videos are appropriate, for search features that allowed adult content to be exposed in the app, and for deceptive advertising.
Toca TV, on the other hand, claims its videos have no third-party advertising or sponsored content – meaning there won’t be subtler paid product placements, either, which are prevalent on YouTube. The company will also hand-curate and prescreen all the videos on the service – something it can do because it’s a much smaller selection than what’s on YouTube.
Another differentiating factor is that Toca TV is interactive. Kids can film their own videos, which are stored locally, using included recording tools and fun animated filters. This fits into the company’s larger theme: that its mobile apps are not just games, they’re “toys.” Similarly, the idea here is that kids are meant to “play” with video, not just watch.
“Toca Boca designs high-quality apps uniquely from the kids’ perspective, and we plan to help shape the future of kids’ TV and video much like our apps have challenged the view of what play is,” explains J Milligan, a former Sesame Workshop creative director who’s now head of Toca TV.
“Being completely free of legacy gives us the freedom to approach video from a completely new perspective. Toca TV will be a place where kids not only get inspired by great content but can expand their creativity through play and video,” he continues. “We wanted to not only offer them a chance to watch but also take a turn behind the camera to create. Toca TV is meant to be inspiring to kids featuring content they could make themselves and giving them the tools to do it,” Milligan says.
At $4.99 per month, Toca TV competes with other kid-friendly video services, like Nickelodeon’s Noggin, PlayKids, Sesame Street Go, Disney Junior, and others, as well as more broadly with the children’s content found on the larger streaming players, like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and, as of more recently, HBO.
Toca Boca, which was acquired by children’s entertainment company Spin Master earlier this year, having hinted at plans to expand beyond apps into other forms of media. Notes Milligan, the company plans to move beyond digital toys to also explore other categories following Toca TV.
The new Toca TV app is available for download on iOS only for the time being.