YouTube may be a popular destination for kids, but parents know it’s not kid-friendly. An innocent video of Elmo singing as he causes others to curse and hurl racial slurs. That’s why two Nickelodeon veterans created batteryPOP – an online, mobile destination where kids ages six to eleven can safely browse cartoons, comedies, music videos and more, sending their favorites to the top of the heap by “skipping” them – a mechanism that could one day pave the way for batteryPOP to become an agricultural league for big networks, like Nick or Cartoon Channel, for example.
The idea for batteryPOP came from Greg Alkalay and Taso Mastorakis, who spent years at Nickelodeon on a variety of projects including writing on-air promotions, managing creative ads, and collaborating with content creators, between others. The two met several years ago, when they were both tasked with “Nick Extras,” a team that worked to fill the pauses between shows with “bumpers” – both original content and movies. animations or other low budget videos with real kids, or kids and graphics combined.
âWhat we were seeing was that there was a lot of interest from viewers to look at those little bumpers. They were getting a lot of buzz on the bulletin boards. We were seeing retention during commercial breaks. increase, “says Alkalay.” Our taste for short content started there, and when Nickelodeon stopped doing it, we wanted to do more. “
The two discussed the idea for a while, starting in 2011. The following year, Alkalay was ready to take the plunge. Both had gotten to the point where there were so many ideas, so many content creators struggling to find success on YouTube, and so many people stuck in the development process with networks, that it made sense to help them. by creating a service that could connect an audience of children with this invisible content. An audience that they understand very well, in fact. Alkalay spent 12 years with Nick, and Mastorakis was with owner Nick Viacom for seven years.
On the batteryPOP website, which launched just over a month ago, kids are the arbiter of what’s good, Alkalay says. When browsing the various channels and shows – most of the content is short, under five minutes – they have the option of “pop” the videos they like, which equates to a “thumbs-up” recommendation. These âpopsâ appear on a child’s profile page, where their friends can also see them.
There are currently about 30 creators on batteryPOP, and 50 or 60 hours of content.
Children can also “upload” a video that will allow them to follow this show, in order to receive updates on their profile, and even to interact with the show’s creators, in terms of feedback.
On mobile, the company has partnered with Weeblets on a pair of mobile apps for iOS and Android, but those, the founders explain, don’t deliver the full batteryPOP website experience. However, they plan to launch their own mobile and tablet apps in early 2014, built in-house.
Unlike other âcuratedâ video collections aimed at kids, like Happly or Totlol, only about half of batteryPOP’s content comes from sites like YouTube or VEVO. The other half is the original content that BatteryPOP hosts itself and comes from the founders’ long-established industry relationships.
“Through popping – sharing [videos] on their personal page – we hope to help creators build an audience around their content, so that we can kind of act as a minor league for the networks, âsays Alkalay. âYou saw it happen with that Fred web series that got popular on YouTube and then Nickelodeon picked it up. I think that’s really just the beginning of what’s going to start happening, âhe says.
Longer term, batteryPOP would like to take a small percentage of any deals they help make between TV networks and videos that âpopâ on their network. But in the immediate future, the company is working on production projects for the brands in order to generate income. These videos will also be added to the batteryPOP site and marked as sponsored. They can also activate advertising later, after reaching a certain user level.
However, BatteryPOP won’t be the only online network competing for projects that won’t be shown on TV for some reason. Other “networks” like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Instant Video are also embarking on original programming, some of which is aimed at children – like Netflix with its new Marvel superhero contract, or Amazon with its own children’s pilots. , enlightened by viewers. But batteryPOP’s advantage isn’t just its singular purpose and content pipeline – it’s free, too.
New York-based BatteryPOP is currently booted, with friends and family funds in tow. Next year, the company could raise a round of external financing.