PlayKids relaunches iOS kids’ video app with new content from Viacom, PBS and others

It’s no secret that kids’ content is huge online, which is why companies like Netflix (S NFLX) and Hulu have been courting young viewers with kids’ shows and even dedicated user interfaces. But Movile’s PlayKids service proves that there is still room for other players in the kids’ video market: The mobile-only subscription service that squarely focuses on the five-and-under crowd relaunched its iOS app with a bunch of new content and a few visual refreshes this week.
PlayKids is unique not only because of its exclusive focus on kids, but also because of its look and feel. The app organizes content in the form of a train — think one wagon for each show or set of characters. And with this update, the PlayKids train got a whole lot of new wagons: Users in the U.S. can now access new Calliou episodes as well as episodes of shows like Sid the Science Kid, Peg+Cat and Pajanimals, thanks to an expanded partnership with PBS.
Viewers in the U.K. and Canada get access to Dinosaur Train, and users in Latin America are getting Viacom (S VIA) shows like Dora the Explorer, Carmen Sandiego, SpongeBob SquarePants and Ni Hao Kai-Lan. And there are some visual refreshes as well: One of them is the ability to switch the skin of the app and turn the train into a submarine.
Movile co-founder and head of U.S. operations Eduardo Henrique told me earlier this week that the company has been seeing a lot of traction specifically on iOS. The PlayKids app has become the most popular paid app for kids on the App Store in 20 countries, and Henrique said that retention rates are equally impressive: 90 percent of subscribers are sticking around more than 12 months, he said.
That may just be because kids like to watch content over and over again and parents eventually just give in and pay, but PlayKids’ strategy to offer downloadable content for offline consumption may be one of the reasons why the app is sticking around on parents’ iPads as well. Movile had initially planned to develop a separate app for older kids, but Henrique said that the success of PlayKids has kept the company busy, and that we won’t see any additional apps until 2015.