“The PBS Kids Plug & Play is the first kid-safe television and playtime educational streaming stick,” said Dawn Ciccone, vice president of brand licensing at PBS, describing the educational channel’s media streaming stick that launches on May 24. Unlike similar media streaming devices such as a Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick, PBS’ device is playfully designed to look like a toy racecar and it comes with a child-friendly remote control.
The PBS Kids Plug & Play, which is available at Walmart and will come to other retail stores later this year, is one more way PBS Kids is bringing its edutainment content to families, adding to its broadcast channel, website, various mobile (and media streaming device) apps and a kid-friendly tablet called the PBS Kids Playtime Pad. To kick off the family fun and learning, users simply insert the Plug & Play device into their televisions through the HDMI port. It comes preloaded with content, including games and sing-alongs, so it doesn’t necessarily need a Wi-Fi connection to work. However, linking to the internet gives users access to the PBS Kids 24/7 Channel livestream and over 100 hours of PBS Kids video content.
Speaking with AListDaily, Ciccone detailed what led to the development of a media streaming stick. “The PBS Kids Plug & Play was formed from an interest in creating new ways for parents and kids to play together,” she said. “Reviewing the PBS Kids digital products available on various OTT devices, we felt that there was a place for a unique family room experience created especially for viewing on the television by parents and young kids. We wanted to create a device that could be fun, easy for young children to use, worked offline, and is capable of accessing all of the other great PBS Kids content available online and via other streaming platforms.”
Given the variety of products PBS Kids currently has, we asked Ciccone what audience they were trying to reach with the toy-like device. The Plug & Play is designed for children as young as two-years-old to operate, but it’s made for family enjoyment. “We expect families to be enjoying the Plug & Play together,” said Ciccone. “According to a recent study of parents who have children ages two-to-six, 89 percent of parents reported they watch TV together as a family and 74 percent were in favor of anytime access to educational programming. The Plug & Play is perfect for families looking for educational programming to play and learn together.”
Ciccone then went into detail about how the device fits in with all the different ways families can access PBS Kids content, particularly the mobile apps. “The PBS Kids Plug & Play is an extension of our approach of developing content for various platforms, where all of the content that is pre-loaded on the PBS Kids Plug & Play was created especially for a television experience,” she said. “All of the content is exclusive to the device, except when connected via Wi-Fi to the PBS Kids 24/7 Channel or the PBS Kids video on demand content available on all platforms.”
As for how the kid-friendly media stick compares to other streaming devices such as Roku, Ciccone made it clear that “the PBS Kids Plug & Play is not a replacement, but complements other media streaming devices and—more importantly—does not require any type of subscription. It is an entirely new experience for young viewers created for viewing on the television with PBS Kids content that is not available on other platforms.”
When asked about how the Plug & Play fit into the PBS Kids’ family of products, which includes the PBS Kids Playtime Pad, Ciccone reiterated how the devices “is meant to be another great option for children and families to access PBS Kids educational content. One of the great things about the Plug & Play is that it creates an interactive family room experience with content such as games and sing-alongs that make it easy for families to play and learn together.”
How is PBS Kids making parents aware of its racecar-shaped media streamer? “Through press coverage of the device’s awesomeness—people like you!” Ciccone said. “And through enthusiastic retailers and happy customers on social media.”