Bezos The Explorer

When it comes to subscriptions of all sorts, kids are the secret weapon. As I’ve written before, a parent may tire of a magazine, or eliminate a premium cable channel if their show ends, but they’ll think twice about making a switch, if it’s going to impact their kids’ entertainment or educational content.

That’s why Netflix’s “Just For Kids” or Amazon’s “FreeTime” is so important. FreeTime is a curated, child-safe subscription for the Kindle that provides access to books, apps, games, movies and TV shows. Amazon scored a coup by picking up the rights to Viacom programming that includes Dora The Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, and other iconic characters. Netflix originally had the license, but they did not renew it, and reportedly Amazon paid north of $200 million for two-plus years of Viacom content.

Of course, all this leads to questions about Amazon’s desire to become a “Netflix killer,” or the payoff of these licensing deals: Can Amazon sell enough subscriptions to break-even? Will it help sell more Kindles?
But maybe those aren’t exactly the right questions to ask.

Amazon may be a good tablet manufacturer, and a decent video-on-demand distributor, but what they are really good at is data mining. Perhaps this isn’t about being a TV network or a hardware company at all. Type “Dora The Explorer” into the Amazon search page, and you get more than 16,000 results. The motivation behind those licenses becomes apparent quite quickly. Without any effort you’ll see plush toys, other toys and games, backpacks, luggage, books, soccer balls, DVDs, pajamas, and other kid-targeted merchandise.

If anyone thinks this deal is just about selling video-on-demand subscriptions, I’ve got an Amazon Prime subscription I’d like to sell them.

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