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Cable Technology Feature Article

September 26, 2013

Hopster Blends Games and OTT for Kid-Perfect Video Streaming

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Kids in the U.K. watch more than 6 billion hours of TV a year. Is all of that age-appropriate content? Ha! Not very likely.

Enter Hopster TV, an over-the-top (OTT) video service that aims to give parents peace of mind to leave their kids in their rooms alone with an iPad, when it launches in November.

The service will be particularly focused on the preschool set, and will offer a dashboard for monitoring kids’ TV consumption. It will be subscription-based and ad-free, though specific pricing hasn’t been released.

The idea is to offer a better kids TV experience than, say, your typical Nickelodeon or Disney (News - Alert) Channel fare.

“Don't get us wrong. We LOVE great kids TV shows,” the company explained. “The best ones are warm, funny, beautiful and can really show our kids some important lessons about life. And let's be honest, they keep our kids busy when we just need a minute or two...However, there are definitely things we don't like. The ads; the shows that aren't so great; the fact that it's not much use in the back of a car. TV online? Still too many ads and way too easy to stumble across video that isn't appropriate.”

Hopster strives to cut the filler out, reduce ad time and lock out bad content with a combination of TV show episodes and interactive games that enhance the show content—an embedded second-screen experience, if you will: “We thought we could we put the best of preschool TV into a single app, and connect it with fun learning games designed to keep kids active and learning; then make sure you could see what your kids have watched and achieved and that it's simple to use and easy to take with you,” the company said.

Of course, lots of folks have hopped on the family-friendly boat. Netflix rolled out its Just for Kids user interface earlier in the year, and big-box retailer Target (News - Alert) this week released its own video streaming entry, dubbed Target Ticket. Its non-subscription model offers access to 30,000 movie and television titles available to buy or rent, download or stream at home or on-the-go, starting at 99 cents each.

The service mainly caters to families with children, with a host of parental controls. Target partnered with Common Sense Media to give access to thousands of reviews, making it easier for parents to choose the right content for their children. In addition to an overall quality rating, guests can set filters according to age-appropriateness, level of violence, profanity, MPAA and TV parental guidelines, putting guests’ in control of the content they deem appropriate for viewing. Parents can also customize a profile for each family member, allowing multiple viewers to watch their preferred content simultaneously on different devices.

“Many of our guests told us that streaming and viewing videos is complicated, so we created Target Ticket to simplify the experience,” said Anne Stanchfield, divisional merchandise manager of entertainment at Target. “Target Ticket will help guests who are looking for a kid-safe, easy-to-use service that mirrors what they have come to expect from Target’s entertainment offerings – a premium selection of the newest titles plus exclusive content, all at an affordable price.”

For its part, Hopster is looking to give the market what it wants. “Really, we just wanted to create something that was guilt-free and that we wanted to give to our kids,” the company said. “It's not perfect yet. But we're hard at work every day to make Hopster what we want it to be – an active, entertaining, playful and safe place for your child to watch, play and grow.”

If all goes well in the U.K., Hopster plans to expand to other markets later, including the U.S.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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