With Toca TV, kids game maker looks to move into subscription video


Toca Boca’s service, aimed at kids between 5 and 9, will sell for $4.99 per month.

The team behind Toca Kitchen, Toca Hair Salon and Toca Doctor is now looking to take on the television.

After conquering the kids game market with simple, wordless apps that let kids pretend to cook, cut hair and play trains, Toca Boca is looking to move into the video business.

On Thursday, the Swedish company is launching Toca TV, a $4.99-per-month subscription video service aimed at kids between the ages of 5 and 9. The service offers a mix of videos created by Toca as well as video from others that are handpicked for the service.

The move could help advance Toca Boca’s years-long effort to become a global kids brand, but also puts it in competition with established video heavyweights ranging from Disney to Netflix to PBS.

As for content, Toca Boca is going for the model of Kix cereal, something kids like and parents at least approve of.

Among the Toca-created series is one called Messie, featuring a loveable-but-klutzy girl discovering (and spilling) ice cream, glue and rainbow cupcakes. Other programs include how-to videos, such as lessons on drawing a three-dimensional hand or making tie-dye T-shirts.

“Parents need to be comfortable,” CEO Björn Jeffery told Recode. “It would be great if they love it, but at least they have to like it.”

Toca TV is iOS only for now, though the company plans to eventually offer it for other mobile devices, too. And, for now, all the videos are streaming, with no option for offline viewing.

Jeffery said that an offline option sounds like a good idea, but also leads to huge apps and notes that a lot of kids have devices with limited memory.

Nor, he said, is there an algorithm for finding the right videos. Instead, company officials watch every second of potential Toca TV content to make sure it is age appropriate and in line with the company’s brand and values.

Videos get points among Toca video scouts for things like showing diversity, having a kid star and good storytelling, while losing points for bad sound quality or a cliche story. Things that can get a video banned include bad role modeling, bad gender messaging, vulgarity or content that is really geared for older kids or preschoolers.

Kids can also use Toca TV’s recording tool to create their own shows.

Jeffery said Toca TV was in the works before Apple announced it would give publishers a greater share of revenue for long-term subscribers.

“That’s not why we did it but it is an interesting side benefit,” he said.

Stockholm-based Toca Boca, originally owned by European publisher Bonnier, was sold in April to Canadian toy maker Spin Master.

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