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Summary:

In recent months, unlimited entertainment services for kids have proliferated. We took a look at the options in two categories: Ebooks and video.

kids reading on ipad ebooks
photo: Scholastic

You’ve probably seen the horror stories about kids charging thousands of dollars’ worth of iTunes purchases to their parents’ credit cards — so kids’ streaming services with a set monthly subscription price for all-you-can-consume content may offer moms and dads some peace of mind. And in recent months, a bunch of these services — offering unlimited access to ebooks, videos and other types of entertainment for kids — have launched.

I took a look at subscription services for kids in two categories — ebooks and video — and compared them by the number of titles offered, cost, age range, platform and titles and brands available.

BookBoard4

A few things to note: Most of the ebook offerings focus on picture books and are aimed at younger children. And if you sign up for one of these services, you’ll almost definitely need a tablet (only Sesame Street makes its books available for web reading for now). Bookboard and Amazon both offer some chapter books for older children, but if your kid is over 12, you should probably check out the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library or the new service Oyster instead.

On the video side, so far big companies — YouTube, Amazon and Netflix — dominate the space, though you should stay tuned for startups to get involved as well. Amazon and Netflix, in particular, are battling each other for your kids’ eyeballs, especially when it comes to popular shows like Dora the Explorer. So watch for both companies to continue bulking up their kids’ content offerings.

Finally, we mentioned Amazon’s Kindle FreeTime Unlimited in both the ebook and video sections because it is the only service to offer both kinds of content (along with games and apps, which we didn’t include in this roundup).

Streaming services: Ebooks
Service Number of titles Cost Ages Platforms Content providers
include
Bookboard 400 $8.99/month, or $29.99
for 6 months
1 to 12 iPad, with previews on the web Open Road, Charlesbridge, Peachtree;
series include Berenstain Bears and Boxcar Children
Amazon Kindle FreeTime Unlimited 1,011 ebooks (and other types of content; see below) Prime members: $2.99 / child or $6.99 / family / month.
Non-Prime: $4.99 / child
or $9.99 / family / month
Amazon says 3 to 8, but
there are a bunch of books aimed at older kids as well
Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD Houghton Mifflin, Sesame Workshop,
Open Road
Sesame Street ebooks 170 $3.99/month or
$39.99/year
2 and up (preschool) iPad and Web Sesame Workshop
Reading Rainbow 300 ebooks, 50 video field trips $9.99/month, or
$29.99 for 6 months
3 to 9 iPad National Geographic Kids, Little, Brown
Books for Young Readers, Charlesbridge, Holiday House
Streaming services: Video
Service Number of titles Cost Ages Platforms Content providers
include
Amazon Kindle FreeTime Unlimited 341 movies and
TV shows
Prime members: $2.99 / child or $6.99 / family
/ month. Non-Prime: $4.99 / child
or $9.99 / family / month
3 to 8 Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, PBS Kids
Netflix Kids N/A $7.99/month for
Netflix streaming
All, since Netflix also offers
content for adults
Many, including web, iOS,
Android, Xbox, Wii, Apple TV, many connected TVs
and DVD players
Dreamworks, Disney, Scholastic, PBS, Hasbro,
YouTube Paid Channels 14 channels aimed at kids and families $1.99 to $3.99/month, depending
on the channel
BabyFirst PLUS channel for
babies and toddlers; other channels for preschoolers and older kids
Web, iOS, Android, Apple TV, many connected TVs
and DVD players
Jim Henson, Sesame Street, National Geographic Kids

Have you subscribed to any of these services to your kids, or do you have others to recommend? Let us know in the comments.

  1. Ameba is also a great streaming service for Kids. http://www.amebatv.com.

    We would love to show you how a kid-centric service like ours differs from the “big companies” you listed.

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  2. Great article! Ameba TV (http://www.amebatv.com/) is another video streaming service for kids. It starts at $3.99 per month, is for ages 2 – 12 and you can get it through Xbox, Google TV, Roku, online and LG Smart TV.

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  3. Not even a mention of StarWalk Kids? You really should take a look.

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