The streaming service will be run by Common Sense Networks. Eric Berger, who spent 14 years in various digital and television roles at Sony, is CEO of the networks unit and will oversee the launch of Sensical. (An overview video is above.)
About 15,000 titles will be on the service at launch, which aims to go live early next year, with new ones being added monthly. Programming comes from a range of producers, studios and distribution partners, including ABC Commercial, known for The Wiggles, Awesome Forces (The Aquabats), Big Big Holdings LLC (It’s A Big Big World), Boat Rocker Studios (Ollie The Boy Who Became What He Ate), Nelvana (Mike The Knight, Bakugan) and many more.
Each hour of programming will have no more than seven minutes of advertising. The Sensical app will be widely available across a range of connected devices as well as iOS and Android.
In an interview with Deadline, Berger said the difference-maker with Sensical, which is entering a crowded field, is the painstaking amount of curation and vetting it plans for both content and advertising. Backed by Common Sense Media, which for more than 15 years has provided education and media literacy services for parents, the goal of the initiative is to provide an alternative to largely Wild-West platforms like YouTube.
Berger noted research indicating that kids two and up watch 39 minutes of online video a day, making it the No. 1 part of their TV and video viewing experience. The volume is more than double the 19 minutes a day measured just three years ago.
“Parents are concerned – and they should be,” Berger said. “Our offering is not just entertaining content but healthy and beneficial content.”
The mission of Sensical, he elaborated in a press release, is “to ignite kids’ passions, fuel curiosity, build bridges between children and their parents and make everyone part of the learning journey.” The goal is to “remove every obstacle to accessing a comprehensive, trusted resource for entertaining short-form video from the best possible content creators.”
Child development experts will review all programming, which will be presented in three areas: Preschoolers (ages 2-4). Little Kids (ages 5-7) and Big Kids (ages 8-12). Advertising will be tailored accordingly.
While Common Sense Networks is for-profit, Berger noted, it is classified as a public benefit corporation. Accordingly, it is out to “show that you can do advertising in the right way,” he said. Categories like sugary foods, inappropriate entertainment, lottery, pharma and others will be banned, and heightened parental controls and a clear delineation of what is advertising and what is not are all in the offing.
The overall plan is to surface “hidden gems” for kids and parent, “things that don’t get surfaced by the algorithm” on YouTube, Berger said.
“Over these past few years we’ve seen an explosion in commercial products and services directed at the audience we serve, but not always with their best interests in mind,” said Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. “We believe there is a meaningful opportunity for Sensical to fill a massive void in the current ecosystem and for Common Sense Networks to innovate in the space for the long-term benefit of kids and families.”
While there are more and more contenders for kids’ attention, especially in the streaming and digital video realm, building trust with parents is an area where Common Sense has a track record.
“By and large, parents don’t trust how short-form video is presented to their young children,” Berger said. “They often find themselves in a position of hall monitor, trying to steer kids in the right direction, giving them guidance on what is appropriate and hoping they don’t take a wrong turn in the process. By leading with our age-appropriate, passion-based approach, we take the guesswork out of the equation and by doing so, raise the bar not just for Sensical, but also for the industry at large. As kids 2-12 lean in more heavily to their affinity for short-form, we want to embrace it but need to do so with a trained eye for selecting videos that give parents real peace of mind.”