Eduardo Lemos, general manager of PlayKids. Photo: PlayKids/Courtesy
Business

PlayKids children's content app targets schools in 2021

A Brazil-based company controlled by Movile Group, PlayKids has a global presence. LABS talked to the company's general manager, Eduardo Lemos, about what changed after the COVID-19 pandemic

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In a 2020 with schools closed and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, children lived (and are still living) part of their childhood looking at screens. The deep health crisis brought an overwhelming responsibility to companies like PlayKids, a Brazilian app for children’s multimedia content that belongs to Movile Group, a holding company that also has iFood and Zoop under its umbrella.

PlayKids started operating in 2013 with the proposal to deliver fun content that contributes to children’s cognitive development. With the schools closed, however, the company also took on an extra task: collaborating for children’s literacy and learning.

“If we think about how they interact with the world and with technologies, the children of 2021 are definitely not like the children of 2013. Our social and historical role is to contribute to family harmony by delivering quality screen time for this child, through products and content designed for development for this period that is so important for humans, from 0 to 7 years old, ” said Eduardo Lemos, general manager of PlayKids, in an interview with LABS.

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“Our concern this year is how to deliver even more interactivity and that this will lead to the child’s motor development, empathic development. There are several points that we can still improve within the app with the types of content that we insert.”

According to PlayKids head of product, Maria Tereza de França Souza, PlayKids produces original content such as Super Hands ( do it yourself activity) and Shake Shake (for children to dance), as well as partner productions such as the hits Galinha Pintadinha, also known in Canada as “Lottie Dottie Chicken,” Pocoyo and Masha and the Bear.

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Maria Tereza de França Souza, PlayKids Head of Product. Photo: PlayKids/Courtesy

Brazilian productions have their versions in English and Spanish. The idea is to invite the child to family interaction outside the app with the content’s activities.

“We also have content that helps the family during the routine, that difficult hour of sleep, for example. Balãozinho helps children to calm down in more difficult moments,” explains Souza.

But not everything is perfect. It is already known that children who spend a lot of time in front of screens can develop vision problems, difficulties sleeping, and even more serious problems such as binge eating disorder.

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With COVID-19, PlayKids saw an increase in screen time of these children. “The pandemic brought a lot of tension to how I support a mother in the home office to attend a meeting, take care of the child, and endure this absence from school. Naturally, we have increased the use of the application to help reconcile several tasks. But] Families feel safe with PlayKids for all our content curation. They know it is content that will promote the development of these children, they cannot stay in front of a screen all day, they have to be responsible, it has to be healthy for the child.”

PlayKids’ headquarters in Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Courtesy.

Brazilian production, with different formats, and in three different languages

In the PlayKids app, there are videos, VOD, interactive books, and games. It is a subscription-based service and costs BRL 29.90 per month or BRL199.90 per year. There is also a freemium model, where you can access part of the platform for free.

5 million

is the number of monthly users of PlayKids. The app is available in about 180 countries. The company does not disclose the number of subscribers.

PlayKids also offers Leiturinha, which includes several book services. The main one, Clube Leiturinha, works as a children’s book subscription club where monthly more than 180,000 subscribers receive books chosen especially for the development phase of children from 0 to 11 years old.

There are three plans available and subscriptions can be monthly, annual, or half-yearly. Besides to the club, PlayKids has the Leiturinha Store, where there are several products cured for the development of children, and the Leiturinha application, with exclusive content and a restricted area for subscribers. PlayKids serves more than 5,000 cities in Brazil through Leiturinha.

According to Lemos, the main markets for PlayKids are Brazil, the United States, and Mexico, but the company has also grown significantly in Australia, Canada, and Argentina. The company did not disclose figures for user growth, billing, or investment amount per instruction by Movile and Prosus, Movile’s biggest investor since 2008.

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Our growth was primarily due to the good execution of organic growth and intelligence and the ability to understand where our user was, where that mom and dad who needed our app would be. We had a lot of awareness, luck, and competence to be able to reach that user

Eduardo Lemos, general manager of PlayKids.

Integrating partners such as telecom carriers and Roku, the streaming aggregator that also offers PlayKids app, is also a way to speed up this international expansion, especially in Mexico. “Expanding to other countries is not a trivial task. We are talking about another culture, another market, other needs.”

PlayKids’ strategy today involves two business avenues: B2C in the global user acquisition market, in which the company must increasingly invest money, and the B2B strategy. The app has been negotiating a partnership with a large auto group and does not rule out putting your app on the air.

“We understand that the trip is a time when you need to distract this child and make him comfortable so that the driver can drive safely and carefully.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, PlayKids entered into a partnership with a large education group (which is not disclosed). For three months, the company handed over almost 100,000 passwords so that this group could distribute them to their respective students in an attempt to reduce the absence from physical school.

Walking towards the formal school market is one of the app’s goals, contributing to making the classroom more playful. That is, inserting technology in classrooms. “We are designing exactly this product that fits perfectly inside the classroom to help the teacher leave the class more playful and bring the father closer to the school.”

If the child in 2013 is not the same as in 2021, the product needs to be refurbished. That’s what PlayKids has been working on since the end of last year. News such as parental control over screen time and interaction in the app, in addition to B2B investment in schools, are goals for this year.

“Our big goal today is to make a product transformation. We have some great launches starting in July this year to have a more interactive product, more playful, that invites you offline. We understand and follow the rules of science about screen time, we know that the app can be a great help to these families, but with certain limits.”

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