With streaming dominating the industry — and suddenly becoming the “new normal” in a changing world — IndieWire is taking a closer look at the news cycle, breaking down what really matters to provide a clear picture of what companies are winning the streaming wars, and how they’re pulling ahead.
By looking at trends and the latest developments, Streaming Wars Report: Indie Edition offers a snapshot of what’s happening overall and day-to-day in streaming for the indie set. Check out the latest Streaming Wars Report for updates to the bigger players in the industry.
As the “Trolls World Tour” wars continue to be fought — with studios and exhibitors battling out the distribution landscape of the future — there’s another animated studio effort fighting for dominance, as the mystery-solving dog of “Scoob!” hits VOD this week. But discerning parents are likely growing restless, and eager to share more substantial options for their kids. And some of those kids might even feel the same way.
While the streaming world is filled with family-friendly offerings (including deep libraries from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and newbie Disney+), budding cinephiles looking for something beyond the contemporary Disney canon are in luck. As the streaming world continues to expand, with new platforms and tons of “virtual cinema” releases, there’s more kid-friendly content than ever before. In short, if you’re burnt out on trolls and Scooby-Doo, there’s a lot more to explore.
Just today, acclaimed animation producer and distributor GKIDS announced the creation of a well-stocked recommendation site for its entire catalogue. The newly launched GKIDS @ HOME site is, per an official announcement, “organized by user-minded themes based on mood, subject matter, visual elements, age range,” all the better to point audiences to the perfect film for them (one of the themes is just “CATS!,” so you know it’s a winner.) The catalogue includes 11 Academy Award nominees, plus the iconic Studio Ghibli library.
While the site itself does not provide its own streaming options, it is designed to point users to the full array of viewing possibilities for each title, including available streaming services, digital downloads, and On Demand platforms hosting each film, along with Blu-Ray and DVD choices for those still interested in physical media.
The site will continue to expand in the coming weeks, and will soon host staff and guest recommendations, expanded category options, and “additional features that will provide audiences with a variety of curatorial options to find the perfect film to view at home, and share with others.”
For viewers eager to further dive into indie and international picks for kids, the Utah Film Center recently launched Tumbleweeds On Demand, a streaming offshoot of its popular family-centric Tumbleweeds Film Festival. New films are being added regularly, ensuring a rotating list of new titles for viewers. The cost to stream a film is $6.99 for a three-day rental.
Also in the festival world, the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) is winding down its virtual cinema screenings of two of its celebrated Kid Flicks award-winning short film programs to view at home. As with other virtual cinema picks, viewers can “rent” the programs from their favorite local theater, which will share all proceeds with the lauded annual festival.
For movie lovers looking for a bargain, there are plenty to be found in the kid-centric realm — heck, even Amazon Prime Video is currently hosting a batch of movies and TV shows for the low, low price of free (and no Prime Video membership required) — including some new contenders.
Animation Magazine reports that streaming outfit XUMO has just recently announced the launch of FREE Kids TV, “a new dedicated channel bringing over 40 different series of kid-focused programming to its free, ad-supported streaming TV service.” The platform is hosting a true variety of series for kids of all ages, from classics like “Teletubbies” and “Lottie Dottie Chicken” to stuff for the older set, including “Degrassi: The Next Generation.”
Elsewhere, Kabillion — another totally free, ad-supported streaming site that doesn’t have quite the same name recognition as its bigger competitors — has also rolled out a fresh selection of kid-focused programming, including over 45 animated shows. The selection includes a ton of big names, including “Thomas the Train,” “Barbie Dreamtopia,” “Sonic X,” “Ninjago,” and many more.
For more educationally-minded consumers, Kanopy — the popular on-demand streaming video platform for public libraries and universities — has its own kids’ section, including educational titles along with entertaining picks like Charlie Brown films, a bevy of “Sesame Street” episodes, and even “story time” versions of beloved books (like the very funny “Don’t Let the Pigeon…” series).
Another very worthy site for tiny viewers hungry for brain food is the documentary-focused CuriosityStream (now hosting a special 40 percent off sale), which hosts hundreds of kid-friendly docs about every topic under the sun, from science to nature, society to animals, history to technology.
And, finally, for anyone who’s a) able to think more than a few days ahead but also b) still looking for some big laughs, a reminder that when HBO Max arrives on May 27, it will include the brand new series “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” a brand-new series from Warner Bros. Animation that vows to marry classic Looney humor with a contemporary bent. The new series will include 80 (!) 11-minute episodes, each comprised of animated shorts that boast new storylines with beloved characters.
Top 5 Power Rankings, Indie Kiddie Edition (May 14, 2020)
1. GKIDS @ Home
4. Tumbleweeds On Demand
5. Xumo and Kabillion
Keep streaming, and stay safe out there.