Where go the kids, so go their parents’ dollars…at least in the video-streaming battle between Netflix and Amazon, that is. Following Amazon’s announcement last week that it had expanded its PBS deal to include hundreds more episodes of popular kids’ shows like Caillou, Arthur, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Dinosaur Train and Wild Kratts, as well as other adult fare, Netflix today is announcing a similar deal with PBS, plus a couple of PBS exclusives. The service is now becoming the exclusive streaming-video on-demand home to the literary-themed preschool program Super Why! (in 2014), as well as British murder mystery drama The Bletchley Circle in the U.S. and Canada.
Amazon, however, has PBS’ biggest hit on its hands, having previously won the exclusive subscription-based streaming rights to PBS’s Downton Abbey.
These days, the two companies aren’t just fighting over the rights to various network programs, they’re both also fighting to become the streaming video service of choice for users who are increasingly watching TV shows and movies on portable devices, untethered from their living room and so-called “appointment television.”
Much of the news coming out of the two services in recent weeks has involved those shows targeting a key demographic in winning new customers: the kids. Netflix recently lost the rights to a slew of top Viacom-owned children’s programming in an effort to change contract terms, angling to buy programs à la carte, instead of in bundles. Immediately afterwards, Amazon swooped in to pick up the lost shows, giving them a new streaming home, a win the company felt was notable enough to advertise directly on its Amazon.com homepage in a letter to customers.
In a down economy where extra spending money is still tight and jobs remain scarce, many families will opt to pay for just the one streaming service, not both. Netflix’s advantage for now is that it’s still the better-known option for this, and has recently invested in its own original programming too, including the return of the beloved fan favorite Arrested Development.
But Amazon has an advantage of its own — and not just in the handful of top kids shows like Dora and SpongeBob, either. Rather, its business model is entirely different from Netflix’s. Amazon’s streaming video service isn’t a standalone option, but rather a part of a package deal with Amazon Prime that also includes free two-day shipping and access to the Kindle Lending Library. If Amazon’s video library ever gets beefed up to the point where it essentially rivals Netflix’s, then it could draw in customers based on the entire Amazon experience — the kid-friendly Kindle tablets, the online shopping and free shipping, and Amazon’s e-book library.