The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Sky Kids App Launches with Commissioning Plans

Sky announces a move into original children's production

Sky launched its Sky Kids App on March 31st in a clear response to the growing reach of Netflix and Amazon Kids. 

Although Sky already had kids’ programming available in its general Sky Go service, the new child-friendly app shows Sky recognises the need to recruit the youngest viewers, and to do so in the only television environment they have ever known: on-demand.

The new app is available to Sky customers who have signed up to its Family or Variety bundles or Sky Q. At the launch Sky emphasis the app's safety features. It allows multiple age-appropriate profiles to be created and personalised using 'Sky Buddy' avatars. And later this year there are plans for a sleep-mode setting that allows parents to limit viewing time.

Sky have been on something of an "acquisition spree" in recent months, so the app already features thousands of episodes of popular kids’ shows for pre-schools to nine-year-olds, including Nick Jr.’s Paw Patrol, Boomerang’s Scooby Doo, CBeebies’ Octonauts and Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time.

But the surprising new move is that Sky intends to commission content for its new service as well as acquire. This starts with the latest outing for Morph, the claymation character made famous by the late Tony Hart on his BBC series Take Hart. Bristol-based Aardman Animations first created Morph in 1977 and will now make exclusive new episodes for Sky. Sky Kids Head of Content Lucy Murphy has said that discussions are already under way with other producers about further projects and there are also plans to produce kids’ versions of some favourite Sky shows.

There is no commitment to fully fund this content - Lucy Murphy has said each project will be considered individually.  But the move clearly represents a new force in commissioning in the UK.

The CMF issued an immediate reaction to the proposals.  CMF Chair, Anna Home said:

“The Children’s Media Foundation welcomes Sky’s announcement that it is commissioning original UK children’s content. Indeed, we welcome any additional commissioning of content from UK producers but particularly fully-funded content, which has a British perspective.  It is too early to see to what extent Sky intend to fund programming and whether producers will still be required to find additional funding from elsewhere but this is certainly a step in the right direction.”

 

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)