Interview with Kidoodle developer Mike Lowe

Kidoodle is a new viewing platform for children designed by media executive Michael Lowe. When he walked in on his child watching an adult movie, he realized that something had to be done. Kidoodle is essentially Netflix for kids, an interface that you can feel safe leaving your child in control of. Shows like Transformers and The Archies are about as risky as it gets.

It’s easy to use and navigate around, and homes with multiple children can set up accounts for each sibling, with their own preferences and favorite shows saved. We spoke with creator Mike Lower to find out more.

Yellow Scene: What was your inspiration for creating Kidoodle?

Mike Lowe: First of all, becoming a dad. My first son was born the year the iPhone was released, and I watched him get used to my iPhone, and seeing how he was naturally gravitating towards that – kids just like to explore. At the time I was working in the media business, and I found that the children’s space to me represented a huge opportunity – I’m very entrepreneurial minded – and really it was solidified by a few things that happened to me in my own home. The first time was when I had been traveling for a few weeks, and before I left I purposely took all the pay channels off my cable box at home because my son was grabbing the remote and playing with the buttons, and I didn’t want him ordering any content that was expensive. When I came back one saturday morning, we were watching some cartoons together. I left to go to the kitchen to get some coffee, and I heard the kids cartoon soundtrack change into something that sounded more like an adult movie. Even though I’d removed everything prior, they had published new channels in the background without my knowing, and of course he ordered a movie and was watching. It was kind of humorous – he didn’t understand it because he was too young. But it got me thinking that if he was older I’d be very alarmed. That was the first ‘a-ha’ moment. The second was when we went to Hawaii a few years later. He likes to watch a lot of content online. He was on the computer and we were watching a lot of volcano videos, because of course I was telling him that we’ll see a volcano in Hawaii. On the third video that we watched, a trailer for a horror movie came on as an advertisement. It scared him and for the next three days after that, he didn’t sleep. It was just those little pieces of insight into what was going on with technology and kids at the time, and realizing that we have to change some of our approaches to technology. There are some gaps. When you look at content that is ok for kids but then the advertising isn’t ok, or you look at content online and you think it’s one thing but it’s actually another thing. There’s a lot of danger that we have to navigate through.

YS: What has been the reaction so far?

ML: Really good. It’s a really easy sell. The problem that kids can see things that really could be harmful happens so quickly. The parents love it. We’re building something with parents in mind. We like a lot of feedback. We’re just new – we’ve got a lot of additional educational content, educational features that are really going to benefit kids even more. We’re seeing requests coming in from the audience that isn’t necessarily your traditional animation, but rather mentoring and healthy lifestyle content for children. We’re really focussed on building a platform that is tailored towards this new digital age.

YS: How do you choose shows, as well as get the rights?

ML: When we first started, we went out and tried to license as many titles that made sense to us that we could afford. We’ve got over 6000 episodes on Kidoodle now. Now what we’re doing is seeing trends in our data. We’re a very data-driven company. We’re learning a lot about the usage and habits of our viewers. Although, I must say, we’ve very careful not to share any of that data that could be deemed dangerous to our partners or anything like that. We’re not capturing the data and using it for advertising purposes. We are just capturing it to make a better Kidoodle experience. Generalized assumptions and patterns. We are now into our next round of content licensing, we’ve already begun original content productions, and we’re licensing shows that we’re seeing demand for.

YS: Is there a chance that we will see Kidoodle on TV?

ML: We’re moving towards smart TVs. By early 2015, we should be on the majority of smart TVs and set top boxes. We launched on PC, Android and IOS devices. That was a request we had from audiences. We’re migrating soon onto all television sets and as many set top boxes and gaming consoles as possible.

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