Family feud: Streaming wars turn living rooms into battlegrounds

One of the major battles of the streaming wars will be over the living rooms of families. As family films have largely stopped hitting the cineplex for theatrical releases, more and more have been going to streaming. Platforms like Netflix, Disney+, and Paramount+ have been investing heavily in family entertainment. Which platforms will win the hearts of families?

Disney+ has a natural content advantage with its library of family-oriented animated and live action series and films from all its Disney brands and more, including nature content from National Geographic and popular characters like Bluey. Paramount+ has access to its own family of content and iconic characters from Nickelodeon, such as Paw Patrol, Spongebob, and Peppa Pig, and movies from Paramount Pictures, including the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movies and other family fare.

Both streamers also actively invest in producing new kids and family content. Disney+ and Paramount+ each had its own major Halloween-themed content releases in October, with Disney+ releasing Hocus Pocus 2 and Paramount debuting the live-action musical Monster High: The Movie on its Nickelodeon networks and Paramount+. The latter, based on the popular toy line from Mattel, was successful enough that Paramount has greenlit a sequel. An animated series based on the same toys is also slated to launch in November as Paramount hopes to build a multimedia franchise.

Other popular streamers, including Netflix, HBO Max, and Apple TV+, are also pursuing the family audience, producing new content to bring families to their platforms. Apple TV+ has been producing quality family entertainment, recently receiving 17 nominations for the inaugural Children’s and Family Emmys, including for its original preschool show Helpsters, Snoopy content, and its Fraggle Rock reboot. Apple TV+ was a distant third in total nominations, however – Netflix led all streamers with 87 nominations, followed closely by Disney (combining nominations for its Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney+ networks) with 76 nominations. HBO Max fared well in the preschool categories on the strength of its Sesame Street content.

Streamers covet the family audience because they anticipate less churn as parents maintain subscriptions to the services that feature family-favorite programming. Kids love to watch and re-watch their favorites, producing hours of engagement, and many families enjoy the long-standing tradition of “family movie night” to enjoy an evening of entertainment together. Streaming platforms that can provide a strong library of family content have an advantage in attracting – and maintaining – subscribers.

Interpret’s VideoWatch data shows that parents of children 17 and under are more likely to 1) choose what to watch based on their favorite networks, 2) like the streaming services they subscribe to and not want to change them, and 3) know what networks air their favorite shows; these characteristics are even more apparent among parents of younger children (12 and under). Winning over families with family-oriented content can be lucrative for streamers and lead to longer retention.