Netflix loads up on kids shows yet again with Scholastic deal

New episodes based on "The Magic School Bus" and other books from the children's publishing company come to Netflix as it continues to bulk up content for the next generation of subscribers.

Screenshot by Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Netflix has been fashioning itself into an online babysitter of sorts with a slew of deals for children's content, so maybe it was only a matter of time before it got even more episodes of "The Baby-Sitter's Club."

Wednesday, the streaming-video service said it has expanded an agreement with Scholastic Media, an arm of publisher Scholastic, to offer more of its TV series and video content, such as the shows based on the tween babysitting series, "The Magic School Bus," and "Goosebumps." Most of the new content is available to Netflix members in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, and Latin America.

In a race for the crib, both Netflix and Amazon's Prime Instant Video service have been vacuuming up content for children. The idea is twofold: Go after a type of programming that -- after sports -- can be the most decisive sway factor when a consumer is choosing what entertainment to pay for. Then get children cozy with the format and style of Internet-delivered content to create a new generation of subscribers.

Netflix's Scholastic deal marks the first time many of the episodes have been available in the streaming format, and Netflix has an exclusive hold on select programs like "The Magic School Bus." However, most of the content is years old. Terms were not disclosed.

"When we first added 'The Magic School Bus' and 'Goosebumps' for our members in the U.S. and Canada earlier this summer we knew they would perform well, but after seeing just how popular they were we decided to expand our relationship with Scholastic and bring these great shows to more of our markets," Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, said in a release.

Netflix's original programming push this year has received the most attention for edgy programs like "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black," but its largest deal for original, first-run content ever was for cartoons. In an agreement with DreamWorks Animation, Netflix will bring 300 hours of original kids' television programming to subscribers next year. Netflix has also widened i ts licensing agreement with PBS to include a swath of past content, such as children's shows like "Wild Kratts," "Caillou," and "Arthur."

Three of the first five programs Amazon will produce as part of its original content push are children's programs , and last month the company ordered up kids' content solely for its next round of five pilots .

Netflix is also working to fill a kids' content void. The site declined high-demand Nickelodeon content earlier this year because parent Viacom wanted to bundle it together with less popular programs in a hulking deal. Amazon later snatched up the forsaken Viacom content.

The latest deal with Scholastic, however, deal doesn't include video content related to Scholastic's most blockbuster brand, the Harry Potter series. Time Warner's Warner Bros. holds the rights to the movies based on those books, and they're not available on Netflix streaming (nor Amazon's Prime Instant Video).

 

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