Viacom 18, one of India’s most prominent broadcasting companies, ventured into the rapidly growing edtech space only recently. VOOT Kids, its multi-format learning and infotainment app for children, hit app stores in June. And, in four months, it has crossed one million installs on Google Play Store.
The app has an Android rating of 3.8 and an iOS rating of 4.2. It is also one of the top 10 education apps in the Apple App Store.
VOOT Kids wants to make screen time more meaningful for early learners (aged between two and eight). It stocks over 5,000 hours of content across 20,000 video shows, pictorial ebooks, audio stories, interactive quizzes, and games.
The app is almost an extension of Viacom’s video-streaming app VOOT, but is focussed on learning content. It aims to offer a holistic edutainment experience that includes four aspects - viewing, reading, listening, and playing.
VOOT has partnered with impressive content publishers such as Nickelodeon, Oxford University Press, Warner Media, Green Gold, BBC Studios, TV Asahi, Sony Music, Hasbro, Mattel, Lego, and many more to bring the ‘best-in-class’ titles.
The app also comes with features like browser history tracking, safe screening, and other parental controls, making it a safe ecosystem for the kids.
VOOT Kids is a subscription-driven app. You can choose between a monthly plan of Rs 99 (comes with a seven-day free trial) or a yearly plan of Rs 799 (comes with a 30-day free trial). You can also choose to auto renew or cancel your subscriptions at any point.
Let’s dissect the app now.
Sign up with your mobile number or email id. Choose a subscription plan at the very outset. VOOT Kids has no free or ad-driven content.
Create your age profile with name and date-of-birth on the next screen. The app allows you to create up to four profiles, and the content is customised based on that.
You can switch between the profiles at any given time.
In the next step, you get to choose your avatar (known as ‘buddy’) and also select your favourite animation characters.
Options include Peppa Pig, Tintin, Pokémon, Garfield, Chhota Bheem, Motu Patlu, The Smurfs, Ninja Hattori, and many more.
This step is important and determines how the app chooses recommendations for you.
The homepage has four tabs – Watch, Read, Listen, Learn.
There is a My Stuff section too, which is your customised content feed. It displays your ‘last viewed’ and ‘favourite’ videos and the ‘rewards’ you’ve collected.
Click on a title to play. You can stop, pause, and download each episode. There’s also a ‘star’ button to add to favourites.
The app even allows you to choose streaming quality, which means you can select ‘low’ if you’re in areas with poor connectivity.
The ‘Watch’ tab contains 13,000+ animated videos, and has categories like Top Toons, Classic Toons, Fun & Learn, Most Popular Episodes, Movies Masti, and more.
The ‘Read’ tab offers a collection of more than 500 children’s books and has separate categories for Early Readers, Budding Readers, and Advanced Readers.
The ‘Listen’ tab consists of more than 150 audiobooks. It also has a Voot Kids Originals section, along with Indian folktales, nursery rhymes, and much more.
You can even play audio stories in the background ala podcasts or music tracks.
The ‘Learn’ tab offers interactive games and educational quizzes under five categories: Numbers, Words, Knowledge, Art, and Life.
Here you can also earn rewards and collect badges along the way. For example, if you score well in a Word quiz, you’ll be a ‘Speech Ninja’.
The top right of the homepage has the Search and Screencast buttons. You can even lookup a title using the voice search feature.
The top left of the homepage takes you back to your profile and the Parent Zone.
In the parent zone, a child’s progress can be tracked through a weekly dashboard.
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Verdict: A cute blend of fun and learning
The cutesy, colourful world of VOOT Kids will transport you back to your childhood in an instant. It successfully manages to hit the sweet spot between learning and entertainment.
There are certain similarities with Disney-BYJU’s Early Learn app, which also appeals to the same audience segment.
But, the streaming (video and audio) features of VOOT Kids separates it from other edutainment apps out there. That you can download, screencast, and background play episodes are an added bonus.
Loosely put, if you marry Early Learn with Netflix Kids, you’d get VOOT Kids.
By being an entirely paid platform, VOOT Kids is able to maintain the premium quality of content. The shows are well-produced and engaging. The app also does data optimisation fairly well. There was no lag even on a 3G network.
However, the content it currently offers is only in English. VOOT Kids will surely appeal to a much larger user base if it adds more local language shows and stories.
It’s still early days, but the traditional broadcaster might be on its way to spinning a digital success story. And, given the current boom in India’s e-learning and OTT sectors, that could be soon!
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)
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