Creators of Disney+ alternatives say goal is content for kids that's not 'inherently political'
While the new content providers say their goal isn't to challenge Disney, the company has lost over $10 billion on its streaming service venture since introduced in 2019
Andrew Huff isn’t a Disney heir or streaming CEO. He’s a father of four who runs the Nashville-based Huff Media Productions. He started his company two years ago after being frustrated by the children’s content flowing into his home.
And he’s not alone. It’s why several companies large and small have begun creating kid-friendly content minus the cultural messaging some reject in modern shows.
Disney’s eagerness to share left-leaning messages about gender and race has drawn sizable attention – from same-sex couples in such movies as “Lightyear” to a transgender character recommending a tampon brand in Disney+’s “Baymax” series.
The streaming platform’s “The Loud Family: Louder and Prouder” featured an episode in which the main characters call for reparations for black descendants of slavery and deride the country’s “systemic racism.”
Disney’s admitted “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” coaxed The Daily Wire to enter the children’s programming game. The conservative news outlet announced last year it would steer $100 million to the creating of apolitical shows for children of all ages.
Last month, the company rolled out its first children’s shows on its Bentkey app, including a series inspired by “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” titled “A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay.”
The animated “Chip Chilla” features the voice of “Saturday Night Live” alum Rob Schneider.
Note: this reporter is a contributor to The Daily Wire.
Daily Wire co-founder Jeremy Boreing and co. initially dubbed the programming slate DW Kids, but the company later changed it to Bentkey to avoid political connections.
The goal, Boreing said during a YouTube-based chat last month, was to “create content for kids that isn’t inherently political.”
Huff entered the children’s programming game earlier this year with Dot Conner: Webtective.” The online series follows a pre-teen (Gili Gould) who solves mysteries with a hand from the World Wide Web.
The project, which has a Christian element to the narratives, flowed from Huff’s concerns about the shows his children have been watching in recent years.
“It started to become obvious that almost everything out there on major platforms, even if it’s for kids, per se, is going to be pushing a very heavy message that’s antithetical to what we value as a family and as parents,” he says. “We’re inundated by it.”
Huff also said children’s shows highlighting sexual orientation proved the most upsetting.
Loor TV, which launched earlier this year, also offers programming for young viewers. The new streaming platform promises a Biblically-inspired lineup “unfiltered by Hollywood or Church Ladies.”
The platform also serves up stories for young minds including shows aimed at children but with an edge.
“Bearly Biblical,” for example, uses stuffed teddy bears to re-enact graphic scenes from the Bible.
While the new content creators largely say their goal is provide better viewing, not take on an entertainment behemoth like Disney, the company has lost more than $10 billion on its streaming service venture since it was introduced in 2019.
PragerU created its kid-friendly slate in 2021 for a different reason.
The company’s PragerU Kids division didn’t lash out at Disney’s recent “agenda” or other content trends. The nonprofit created its line of shows to address recent changes in the educational landscape.
Jill Simonian, director of Outreach for PragerU Kids and on-screen talent for the nonprofit, says the company’s lineup teaches children to love their country, embrace the nation’s core values and even explore financial literary.
It’s “edutainment,” Simonian says of PragerU Kids, which began with two shows and will offer 10 originals early in 2024. Too many schools focus on social justice over history, Simonian argues.
“They divide each other by the color of our skin,” she says.