I woke up this morning with an email from Netflix in my inbox:
Netflix Just for Kids is here – a fun world of kid-friendly TV shows & movies available now on your Nintendo Wii or at netflix.com/kids.
Just for Kids is just like it sounds… A special section designed so kids can easily find great stuff to watch. They’ll discover a world of TV shows & movies – all suitable for children 12 and under.
Wow, cool. So, I fire up my Wii and it asks me to update my Netflix app. Yes please!! (mind you, I’m doing this in the presence of my 6-year old, who currently dominates my instant queue and knows how to use Netflix on the computer, on my phone, on our Roku box, and the Wii– and she is getting impatient!) I get it fired up, and ask her what the new section in the left corner says.
“Just. . . For. . . Kids!!!” she reads excitedly! I hand her the Wii-mote and let her go to town. She scrolls through all of the cartoon pictures at the top of the screen and gets more and more excited at each one. She almost loses it when she sees that The Fresh Beat Band has been added to Netflix and finds an episode she’s never seen before and starts watching it.
So, kid friendly? Easy to use? Absolutely. But, then again, she’s mastered both the web and the Roku versions of Netflix, so this isn’t surprising. But I’m betting this is simple enough we can teach her 3 year old brother to use it as well.
This service isn’t entirely new. Netflix has had a Just for Kids section available online for a while now, so this was just inevitable it should come to the console world.
Now, there are some drawbacks. So far, this is only for Wii. So you can only watch 129 hours of VeggieTales in glorious 480 resolution. But, considering how many of these cartoons made in the 80s and 90s do not translate well into HD anyway when they run through the HDMI output on my Roku Box, we’re not missing much. Plus, I hardly know any 10 year olds who are snobs about only watching things in 1080p.
Still, smart move by Netflix to start with Wii customers. That way, they can work out any bugs with a smaller test group, and they can be sure that it works. Also, Wii is more popular with little kids, parents, and grandparents, so what a perfect place to test it (rather than a bunch of caffeinated and cynical teens to 30-somethings probably too busy playing MW3 on their PS3s and XB360s to check out Phineas and Ferb or The Backyardigans).
The other cool thing is that with each show in the kids section, each episode not only has a short text description, but also a screen capture of the episode. Very helpful for children who may have varying levels of literacy. Makes me jealous, actually. I wish flipping through Star Trek episodes was this nice-looking.
The kids section also has its own sub-genres, which is great. My favorites so far? “Superheroes” and “From Books”.
But, because we are geeks, we can’t help but bitch about the things we love. I have a few complaints:
1- The interface is not as crisp-looking as the ones on my Roku or on the web. Again, this may be the difference between 480 and 1080 definition, but the real problem is that the “Just For Kids” marquee only shows up when you hover over the top left of the screen, then have to click on a relatively small arrow to get there. I hope my kids can do it.
2- This is a great feature, but aren’t there dozens of other things we want that would also work? Just read the Netflix Blog announcing this, and the top comments are asking for multiple profiles as an option to segregate kids’ viewing from their parents’, the ability to default to go to the kids menu, or people who want it on their HD next-gen consoles. We can only hope these things are also coming.
So, great job, Netflix. Between this, the Arrested Development news last week, and the other deals you keep making to bring us new content, you’re doing well. Keep doing this, and your Fall and Winter are going to make up for your nearly disastrous summer. Oh, and get me the Roku version ASAP, ok?