Viacom Ditches Netflix, Will Likely Take Away Important Toddler Viewers

COMMENTARY | You might not think of toddlers as a major demographic in TV viewing, but, thanks to parents who sit their kids in front of the TV all day, that group has become an every increasing focus for TV providers. Unfortunately for Netflix, the company is now losing out on a ton of toddler-based programming.

Viacom chose not to renew its contract with Netflix this week, and that means Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, and numerous other popular children’s shows are disappearing from the network. When all is said and done, more than 2,000 titles have exited Netflix.

Netflix says it wants to be an “expert programmer” of “quality” content and not simply a curator of every reality TV show on the face of the planet.

Netflix’s decision is tied directly to its new strategy of being an “expert programmer” and curator. While Netflix has scored big with its hit series House of Cards, the truth is the network is used because of the massive amount of content it offers.

In the near future, Netflix will have to prove that it can continue to attract viewers to a system that is constantly changing. The last thing the network needs is angry customers who make it half way through a TV series only to find their new favorite show now missing from the company’s programming block. While Netflix has signed a new deal with Disney and Pixar, the company’s five new titles including Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Tron: Uprising hardly make up for the popular shows it has lost.

The move to ditch popular Nick shows could soon push parents to Amazon. The e-commerce giant has worked closely with content providers, and, unlike Netflix, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos hasn’t been afraid to throw around his company’s billions of dollars in an attempt to lure customers to purchase more products via Amazon Prime membership. Amazon in fact recently rolled out FreeTime Unlimited, which delivers not only videos to children but also a collection of interactive books and games. Amazon allows parents to receive FreeTime Unlimited content for just a few dollars a month.

Unlike adults who tend to stand around the water cooler with their friends to talk about HBO’s True Blood or AMC’s The Walking Dead, children don’t care about “quality curated programming.” They just want to watch the shows that entertain them.

Netflix may not be forward facing when it comes to toddlers, but it needs to be.