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'The kids are just an added bonus': How streaming giants are appealing to parents' nostalgia

Tracey Marx Bernstein
Senior Producer

Next month, the streaming wars will be in full swing when Disney+, Apple TV Plus, and HBO Max (T) debut to subscribers. One of the key demos to reach — children.

Some experts say Disney+ (DIS) has the edge when it comes to kids content.

“They have a high level of trust among parents, and they also have a huge number of offerings that are slated for the kids' age group,” Marisa LaScala, Parenting Editor at Good Housekeeping, told YFiAM. “So if you are looking for a wide variety of choice, Disney Plus is a really good option.”

‘They’re appealing to nostalgia of parents’

The OTT service will have the whole Disney library from classics like “Sleeping Beauty,” to new live action remakes like “Aladdin,” and Disney Channel favorites like “High School Musical.”

“I do think they're appealing to the nostalgia of parents — people who grew up in the '80s and '90s,” said LaScala. “So you can go back and see things that you watched when you were a kid and there is a new twist on them, but then there's also some new shows that are very exciting.”

One of those new movies is the live-action “Lady and the Tramp,” remade with rescue dogs.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 22: Monte and Rose during the Disney+ And The Cinema Society Host A Special Screening Of "Lady And The Tramp" on October 22, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

“It's quite sweet,” said Yahoo Entertainment’s Ethan Alter. “I think what works here, maybe unlike ‘The Lion King,’ is that the animals — they're using actual dogs. There certainly is some digital manipulation when they talk. The dogs are not actually talking. So it's little ‘Babe’-ish, but it's very sweet and well meaning. I can easily see families with young kids sitting down to watch this all together on launch day, for sure.”

Disney Plus is also launching with a spin-off of “Star Wars” called “The Mandalorian” and a reality TV show called “Encore!” But they aren’t the only ones producing new content for the younger generation.

‘The kids are just an added bonus’

Netflix (NFLX) has also ramped up its content, according to reports the streaming behemoth will spend $15 million this year. Earlier this week the company announced it is raising $2 billion in debt to fund new content, acquisitions, and more.

“Netflix does have its own original shows,” said LaScala. One of those is the remake of “The Dark Crystal.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 27: Nathalie Emmanuel attends "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance" New York Premiere at Museum of the Moving Image on August 27, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

“And again, it's a feeling for the nostalgia. I watched ‘The Dark Crystal’ in the '80s, but this is way better. The effects are way better. I do think that parents, with the exception of Disney Plus, are choosing the streaming services for the shows that they want to watch, and then the kids are just an added bonus.”

Alter tells YFiAM Netflix is using a bit of the kitchen sink approach, airing shows like “Where In the World is Carmen San Diego,” “The Last Kids on Earth,” and “Beat Bugs.”

Apple TV+ plans small rollout

Apple TV Plus (AAPL) seems to be planning a smaller rollout, when it comes to new content. Their new offerings include “Ghostwriter,” a remake of the show from the early ‘90s, and “Snoopy In Space.”

“The one thing they are launching with is a documentary called ‘The Elephant Queen,’" Alter said. “But that's going to be sort of an ‘Animal Planet’-esque documentary. It's going to play limited in theaters and then be available on launch day on Apple TV Plus. So that's their way into the nature market, which is a big market for families, for sure, I'd say.”

The question remains, will kids want to watch all these remakes that their parents loved so many years ago?

“It is really surprising how well some of those movies hold up,” LaScala said. “You know, mileage varies per child, but there are so many options on Disney Plus that they're going to find something.”

On the other hand, sometimes for parents you win some and you lose some.

“I can say that I was hoping that my kids would love ‘Flight of the Navigator,’ which was one of my favorite movies as a kid. They didn't like it,” said Alter. “It was devastating. On the other hand, they did love the original animated ‘Aladdin.’"

Tracey Marx Bernstein is a senior producer at Yahoo Finance.

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