Is Programming for Children The Future for E-Commerce Sites Like Alibaba?

As e-commerce giants Amazon and Alibaba adapt to their customers' increasing reliance on mobile devices, will these companies start to invest heavily in motion pictures targeted at tots as a way of attracting and holding customers?

That strategy may indeed be where the major OTT video providers (not just e-commerce companies that offer "Prime" subscribers motion pictures as a loss leader, but subscription giants like HBO and Netflix too) are headed: Wagering that the key to holding customers is by making a grab for their kids.

In recent years shows like Game of Thrones, Arrested Development and House of Cards, targeted at adults, have been the window dressing for services like HBO and Netflix.

But to keep these subscription services in play on a mobile device - not to mention holding customers to newer video services built around e-commerce sites like Amazon and Alibaba - the next big push may involve offering shows that the little ones can't live without.

That strategy, of investing in children's programming to maintain a loyal subscriber base, may or may not play out. 

But it makes sense.

As Amazon and Alibaba customers move to mobile devices for both purchasing and video viewing, which apps are on the homepage may involve who is offering the most popular children's video programming.

Think about it...

Keeping the kids loyal to a particular service may explain why HBO (not known for kids stuff) has recently announced a deal to premiere the next five seasons of Sesame Street on their cable and streaming platforms.

And what does this trend in the West mean for China?

Of particular interest to filmmakers tracking the Chinese market will be how Alibaba decides to incorporate children's programing.

One clue?

This summer, Chinese box office records were set by family-oriented pictures

Apparently, kids' tastes matter in China too.

Does it then follow that content for kids will be a huge part of what Alibaba offers as Jack Ma's filmmaking properties ramp up?

And will the data that Alibaba is collecting from online shopping behavior effect filmmaking choices?

In a February 3, 2015 article in VarietyZhang Qiang, the CEO of Alibaba Pictures, suggested that shopping behavior might soon be a driver of content and marketing decisions: “By using big-data technology to analyze consumer shopping patterns and behavior on (e-tailers) Taobao and Tmall, Alibaba Pictures expects to be able to create customized movies and TV programs while marketing and distributing them efficiently across Alibaba’s platforms."

Will Chinese e-commerce be any different from what is happening at Amazon, where, as Joshua Brustein wrote in an August 15th, 2015 post for Bloomberg Business, they've "been rolling out a steady stream of new children’s titles" including Wishenpoof which launched on Aug. 15th, 2015, "an animated series for preschoolers featuring the voices of Jason Priestley, from the original Beverly Hills 90210, and his daughter?" That follows July of 2015 when "Amazon released six pilots for new children's shows with such names as Lily the Unicorn and Bear in Underwear."

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