Q&A: Kidoodle.TV’s Brenda Bisner


Available in over 160 countries and territories on thousands of connected devices, Kidoodle.TV provides peace of mind for parents that their kids are Safe Streaming—a term that the company coined and continues to stand behind. Every show on the AVOD service is vetted by people (not algorithms) who are committed to the Safe Streaming experience, and that’s also what the platform is looking for in the partners it works with. Brenda Bisner, chief content officer, tells TV Kids about the opportunities in the kids’ AVOD space and plans to continue building out the Kidoodle.TV offer.

TV KIDS: What opportunities did Kidoodle.TV see early on in the AVOD market for kids’ programming?
BISNER: A Parent Media Co. (APMC) birthed Kidoodle.TV back in 2012, which was a very different time. It was with the idea that APMC would have many babies and Kidoodle.TV would be one of those babies. The thought process behind that was we believe, as a company, that kids deserve to have a safe place to watch content online. At that time, we saw a migration [of viewing] to areas that were not safe for kids, just fundamentally because of how they were made. Back in 2012, AVOD was an untapped market that had yet to have that much attention in terms of the architecture of how those platforms were going to cater to children. So, we coined Safe Streaming, which are words that we own. We are a Safe Streaming channel for kids under 12, and we adhere to the highest letters of the law when it comes to keeping kids safe—COPPA, GDPR-K—and we take that very seriously as an organization.

We’ve shifted into a leading AVOD channel, and Safe Streaming has created a movement. Now we’re all talking about kids being safe—something that we have always stood strong in our values about, just like we’ve always stood strong with co-viewing. We are proud to be at the size we are today and look forward to the future. We’ve grown in ways that have been beneficial not only for children but also creators and brand owners.

TV KIDS: With the proliferation of AVOD platforms for kids, how is Kidoodle.TV positioned to stand out?
BISNER: We’ve always been positioned in a way that sets us up as a trusted destination, and that has grown, because of the consumers that are enjoying it, the families that are committed to Kidoodle.TV. Parents today have grown up with the internet; they are very aware of the dangers that kids face. Parents are looking for alternatives that are not just safe but also something that is free, with no barrier to entry. With a recession and the cost-of-living squeeze, it’s another really great thing that we can do to ensure that not only families can afford it but that their kids can be safe while doing it.

Our user experience is award-winning. If you go to Kidoodle.TV, the navigation is right for children. We consistently test. We’re a tech company at heart, and everything for us is built so that it is safe—and there’s a reason behind it. We’re a closed platform, so everything is human-vetted; everything is seen by eyeballs, including our adverts, to make sure that kids are seeing content that is not derogatory in language, that is not violent, that is not going to cause nightmares or create or disrupt a situation in their lives that is difficult for them to take on.

It’s also about our content. We have the best-in-class content kids are looking for, and it’s positioned in a way that it’s not disrupted by adverts. It’s easily navigable. It is something that kids can feel like they’re part of, and we feel strongly about including kids in that conversation so that we’re delivering what they want—because we’re listening.

TV KIDS: What can you tell us about the performance of Kidoodle.TV over the last year or two years?
BISNER: Our first point of entry has always been the connected TV market. We were early adopters in that space, and with partners like Roku, Apple, Amazon, Vizio, Hisense, as well as iOS and Android, we’re available there with no barrier to entry for families. With connected TVs, it taps into our belief of the co-viewing happening in households. So, our performance has grown. The Covid-19 pandemic was an incredible time when everybody was home. Incredible in the sense that we really started to talk about co-viewing in a different way. We know that kids had very little to do besides [being at home], and our growth was over 3,200 percent. And that has not changed for us; it’s continued to be steady. Our retention is very high. The content that we have has a very high completion rate. As far as performance goes, some of the biggest brands in the world are on our platform. So, kids are coming in looking for that, as well as spending time finding other content pieces that they’d like to enjoy.

Kidoodle.TV is more than just a channel; it’s something that we’re looking at as a way of life. With the social impact work we’re doing to make positive things happen in the world and how our social media channels tackle the parent experience, families feel engaged with what we’re doing. It’s not just a one-sided relationship; it’s very transparent and it’s engaging. That’s something that we look very hard at and try to really meet families where they are, which is different all over the world. 

TV KIDS: How is content curated on Kidoodle.TV?
BISNER: Well, thank you to all the content creators and brand owners who have contacted us. We get a lot of submissions, hundreds a week, and we do our best to get back to everyone. As long as I’ve been in the business, it’s been wonderful to see all of these brands that are household names today grow. It’s been wonderful to see content creators born out of the digital space. We’re always looking at everything! It’s important to be part of the trends that are going on, to know what kids are talking about and what they’re doing and to spend time with kids and ask them questions. They are the smartest people in the room.

From a content perspective, our catalog is now over 40,000 episodes—and it grows every single day. There are a lot of deals closing. We feel very lucky that we get to work with so many great content owners and to bring SpongeBob, PAW Patrol, Ryan’s World, Kids Diana Show—some of the biggest brands in the world—those deals are fun. We look at that as a relationship when we make those deals because we want to be able to engage with what’s going on with the brand. It’s never been about slapping it up on the channel and hoping for the best. We’re looking at it; we’re making sure that it’s positioned correctly—from a visual standpoint to a content-selection standpoint. How long is the content? What’s the completion rate? Are we giving the audience what they’re looking for? And we can always move things around; we can always change things up to ensure that we’re meeting those demands.

There’s so much to choose from. From a curated standpoint, it’s categorized. We’re tapping into the editorial calendar. We have a Christmas Snow Much Fun campaign and Hollow-stream. Those kinds of real things happening in life attached to our channel make people feel more engaged with the experience that they’re receiving. It’s something that we want people to come back to. We want them to spend time with us, and we want to make sure that they’re doing it because they’re finding what they need. That is important and a consistent work in progress that we take seriously.

TV KIDS: How often is content refreshed?
BISNER: We’ve taken an approach similar to the traditional broadcast model, where we launch new content on Thursdays. We’re launching anywhere between 10 to 20 new shows a week, depending on what those brands are. A lot of times, it’s more episodes, consistent refreshes. We just started launching movies, which is really exciting for us. We really look forward to Thursdays because we’re working with our partners to not only have the deal constructed but then the delivery process, and then, of course, as we prepare for launch, if there’s any social cross-promotion. We love brands with a social strategy. It is so important to us, and we ask a lot about that because we want to make sure that people know what’s on Kidoodle.TV.

Then, once we go live, our partners get access to our analytics portal, which provides backstage access to what’s going on with the content. It’s the daily heartbeat, so our partners can actively participate. That transparency and honesty, that quality of revenue that’s coming in, is something that we really put a lot of effort behind. Backstage was built for our partners. We’re the only AVOD channel to have something like this (outside of another large AVOD channel). We look to add new features to it, and it’s really developed quite a lot over the last year.

TV KIDS: What’s Kidoodle.TV’s current footprint, and what are the plans for expanding the service to more platforms and territories as you look ahead?
BISNER: It’s consistently growing. We’re in 160 territories today. Our global reach has always been there. It’s great when we see certain things perform very well in the Philippines or Kenya, but the markets for us that have always been very strong are the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. Latin America is a very big growing region for us. We’re looking at those markets and making sure that we’re speaking to them in a way that they can relate. Recently we’ve been programmed into Spanish because we have a very large Hispanic audience. So, if you are a household whose first language is Spanish and that’s how you program your television, that’s how we’ll come up. When you go to different territories around the world, it comes up in the native language of that territory. We are looking at all regions very closely; our partnerships with platforms in those regions really matter, too.

TV KIDS: What’s the strategy for localizing across the broad footprint?
BISNER: Our content partners deliver the content as they want it to be encoded, and then we do our [quality assurance] process, and we set for launch. In those regions, we’re always looking at English as a first point of entry. We know English is watched in all of those territories, but we’re also looking at a lot of other languages: Spanish, French, Castilian, Portuguese, etc. As we have those languages, we can then deliver and launch those languages in those native territories in a specific way.

TV KIDS: What are the latest developments with original programming?
BISNER: Originals are so much fun. We just launched a show called What’s the Word?It is in Spanish and French. It’s very preschool-based, but it’s about learning language. The most fun part is that we’ve dipped our toe into interactive content. We are actively producing and launching interactive content on our AVOD channel, and this is something you’ll hear a lot more about. “Interactive” is a word that’s circulating in the business (just like the word “FAST” is). It’s been really exciting to watch this particular show in an interactive form because we see that the completion rate and viewership are a lot higher with that. You’re not just passively watching the content.

We’re very good at making really fun content. We work with some of the best talent in the world. We’re trying to bring a little light and hope and fun into the world with what we’re doing. We’re also testing what’s working and what’s not. As we work to acquire content that is completed, we want to be able to bring our interactive components and other ideas to the table that can further advance the engagement of the audience with the content that they’re seeing.

TV KIDS: What’s guiding the acquisition strategy, and what’s on your wish list?
BISNER: Everything! Number one: partnership is the name of the game. We want partners that care about what we’re doing. We want partners that have seen Kidoodle.TV, that know what Kidoodle.TV is, that know what they’re engaging in, and that it’s a real relationship. It’s really about the children for us, and it’s about Safe Streaming and how seriously we take that—and we want that commitment from our partners.

Completed content is the top priority. We do not gap finance; we do not co-produce. We’re not going to come to the table and save the day on some old-school business-structure models we’ve seen in the past. We’re looking for content that you have ready to go that has a proven audience around it. It is also really important that there is a campaign or social strategy. There’s a lot out there in the marketplace; there are a lot of channels out there is a lot of content. How are you going to get to the front? That thought process really benefits our brand owners when they have [a social or promotional strategy], especially if they’ve got their content in other places. The packaging of that content, what makes it different? If it’s everywhere for free, why should people care about that? From a brand-owner perspective, I’m always encouraging partners to look at what they have, how they can package it, and what their visuals are to engage the audience.

We look for non-exclusive AVOD rights, and we have a 30-day-out clause (or what I call a break-up clause), if that’s necessary. It’s not something that we exercise a lot because our partners are always happy with us. Come to the table with a clear package of what it is and how much of the world is available because we do seek worldwide [rights], though we can geo-block within reason.

One of the special things for us is we know that our sweet spot is about 9 to 10 minutes in length. Shorts are something that we don’t see a lot of completion rate on, oddly enough, and the longer content does better; it keeps the audience more engaged.

TV KIDS: Kidoodle.TV also offers podcasts. What have you learned about kids’ engagement with the audio side of things?
BISNER: We love the audio side of things. It was about two years ago that we started this offering, and we were one of the first to bring it into the marketplace [for kids]. Podcasts and the audio stream were under the idea that there could be an off-screen experience. Kids love good music, and they listen to music and podcasts about things they care about. We have one of the largest gaming content catalogs that is Safe Streaming-vetted. Kids are really into brands like Roblox and Minecraft, and they’re looking to engage with it—from buying a T-shirt to playing a game to telling their friend to listening [to a podcast]. If there’s a brand that’s really big, it’s great to have that extension because not only is it an additional revenue stream, but it’s a really fantastic way to engage with households in an off-screen environment. For parents, those screen-time conversations are real and they’re difficult. It’s something that we’re never going to get away from, but if there is another way to engage, we’re looking to do that in a Safe Streaming kind of way.

TV KIDS: Tell us about the social impact work and philanthropy Kidoodle.TV is involved in.
BISNER: The biggest way to get a smile on our faces is to talk about our social impact and philanthropic work. We are so grateful that we’ve been able to grow to a position where we can now do more than just offer Safe Streaming. Last year was so wonderful in what we were able to achieve, including clearing lists from teachers and classrooms so kids could have the supplies that they needed. We planted a lot of trees, which is great for our environment. We fed families. There are a lot of people suffering and making decisions around heat or food or gas—those are difficult, difficult conversations. We can do something to help. That is something that this year we’re going to be doing a lot more of. As an organization, that’s important for all of us. A philanthropic tie-in to any brand is also something really inspiring and powerful and sets things apart. If there’s something about that brand that’s going to do more than just entertain but also give back and do something good in the world for kids, that’s the Holy Grail.

TV KIDS: In looking at the massive industry shifts and the impact on creators, how can Kidoodle.TV disrupt the status quo?
BISNER: It’s very difficult out there for creators right now. The industry is undoubtedly in a major shift. We are listening to that and embracing creators in the way they need right now. Creators are struggling, and it’s something we have to talk about.

We’re very much a place for content to launch. We’re in a position where we have a large audience, we’re a channel that people are coming to, and we do good in the world. We’re looking to work with creators in a lot of different ways this year because not only do we believe in creators, we think that they’re incredibly important. It’s a special talent to create content for kids and do wonderful things to entertain. What a gift they all have! So, we’re looking at the marketplace. We’re showing up. We’re listening. We know that we are a new revenue stream for a lot of people, and we’re constantly keeping our focus on what’s next. What more can we do as an organization? What other tech can we build that’s going to change the game? What can we do to benefit and make sure that kids are still going to see great content coming? We know it’s difficult, we know it’s necessary, and we care about it.

TV KIDS: In what ways is Kidoodle.TV looking to grow its business in 2023 and beyond?
BISNER: We’ve grown quite a bit. A Parent Media Co. has many babies. We have our Safe Exchange business. Advertising is very important for us. We only serve adverts that are safe for children and work with partners that can provide those.

Other growth areas are our global expansions, our platform expansions, our foreign-language content, our interactive content. And how we’re going to be looking at creators and the creator marketplace and how we’re going to help families. All of those things are really big. They’re all very major areas of our business that we’re planning for. We’re in a position now more than ever to show up in a big way for everyone.