MediaTakeout.com founder, entrepreneur and attorney, Fred Mwangaguhunga, recently launched a new app for kids that serves as a YouTube alternative. The idea for www.TubeJr.com stems from YouTube’s recent split from Amazon and the consequential loss of key advertisers and millions of viewers.
As of Jan. 1, millions of Amazon Fire Stick subscribers no longer have access to YouTube on their devices. The Google run video streaming service Youtube came under fire after it was revealed that YouTube’s algorithm for video selection allows graphic, adult content to be shown to young children. These explicit videos were available when users searched for popular fictional children’s characters such as Elsa, Spiderman and Peppa Pig.
YouTube lost hundreds of millions in advertising dollars (with Procter & Gamble pulling over $140M in ads indefinitely). This is the biggest ad loss in the company’s history- many are referring to it as ‘Adpocalypse’. The specific scandal regarding children’s videos is known as ‘Elsagate’. YouTube responded to the controversy by deleting millions of troublesome videos from the platform, but many are still concerned about the use of an algorithm for children’s video selection.
Mwangaguhunga, who is both a parent and content creator, quickly related to the issue and decided to launch a new digital platform, “Tube Jr”. The Tube Jr app (and website) does not rely solely on technology to feed kids content. Instead, an employed team of professionals (many who are parents) screens all material before it uploads to the application and is made viewable by children.
Rolling out recently interviewed Mwangaguhunga about his latest venture and the importance of kid-friendly content.
What motivated you to create Tube Jr?
I think I was always looking for a kind of second act. MediaTakeOut has been incredibly successful and I’m still working with it right now. I still continue to do it. But, when I started MediaTakeOut, that was 12 years ago. I was a single guy spending most of my time surfing the internet and listening to music and stuff like that. So to launch company like MediaTakeOut made a lot of sense for me as a person. Now I’m a different person. It’s been 12 years. I’ve gotten married, I have three kids, and that’s a large part of my life. I’m always looking for opportunities- and now as a father who has kids that are able to use cell phones and use computers and tablets and go online to see things- You know, the idea of them using YouTube… When you start to see the problems with it that’s where I just said “Wow, there’s a real opportunity here.”
How old are your kids?
I have seven-year-old triplets.
Seven year old triplets. Wow! So, what do they think about your new platform?
They love the idea- I mean, there’s nothing inherently wrong with YouTube and YouTube kids- I think they have really good content. The problem is that YouTube Kids and all of the others, or most of the other competitors that are out there are actually running an algorithm. So anyone can put any kind of video content up. The algorithm feeds you content, whatever content that it think applies to you next. So you can start off watching, let’s say Barbie doll. And after you watch two or three or four videos, the algorithm can take you to places where you don’t necessarily want to be. Not necessarily X rated content because YouTube doesn’t allow that, but definitely content that is not appropriate for 7 year olds. That’s what a lot of the uproar that has been happening with the last year is about.
How are you marketing and how are you getting kids to be a part of Tube Jr?
We just did a soft launch. Right now, it’s still in beta form. You can go online and go to TubeJr.com We’re still working on putting together the app. At that point you can download the app and watch all of the content that we have on there, which is screened to make sure that it is appropriate for 7 year olds and below. And it’s engaging content, the kind of content that my kids are interested in, like doll play, video game play. It’s engaging. It’s interesting. And like I said, the most important part as a parent is that it’s safe.
Part of the problem, I think, with monitoring kids- I mean obviously I have three kids. I have three kids watching three different devices. It’s hard to kind of always monitor what each of them are watching. Even if it were one kid a lot of the video is- you know, TV shows are 30 minutes long or 45 minutes or an hour long. Videos, however, are a minute long or two minutes long or three minutes. By the time you go to the bathroom and come back your child could have cycled through three different videos. You may be okay with the first video, but the second video you might not have been okay with or the third video. So it’s that much more important when we’re talking about videos that are short in length, that those videos have been monitored; that they’ve been curated in a way to ensure the safety of them.
And you chose videos because you believe that that’s where most of the kids are these days? In terms of social media and how they’re getting to their content?
Right. Kids today are different than when I was a kid. I turned on TV and whatever was on TV, I watched. Now, kids are interested in watching- my kids either don’t watch or watch hardly any kind of regular schedule programming. They watch stuff on Netflix; they watch stuff on demand. But they love to watch videos on phones or on tablets. I think that’s where most kids are right now. So, if you’re talking about children’s programming you really have to understand that that’s the way that children are consuming the programming. What we’ve done is we’ve curated programming that is interesting to kids and safe.
TubeJr is available on all platforms including Amazon Fire Stick.