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Thanks to advanced streaming technology, there’s a lot more family-friendly programming for kids than ever before. As a parent, you want to choose the cordcutting solution that gives you access to the shows your kids like. Channels like Sprout, Nickelodeon, Disney Junior, and PBS offer ample quality kids programming. If you’re looking for a way to access these popular children’s channels, here are a few ways you can watch live and on-demand.
Live broadcast of PBS and PBS Kids Channel
The most dedicated, and best children’s programming you can find on broadcast TV is through PBS and PBS Kids. Because the network is member funded, all live programming is free when accessed via over the air antenna. Your kids will recognize favorite shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That, Dinosaur Train, SUPER WHY!, and Wild Kratts.
On demand through the PBS Kids app
Your kids can see your childhood favorites like The Electric Company, and current series like Curious George, Sesame Street, and Arthur. Access 1,000+ videos on the free app for iOS and Android devices or with streaming hardware like the Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku devices.
Live stream Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.
When it launched in the late 1970s as the first cable channel for children, no one would have guessed that it would spawn hotels, theme parks, and award shows. The channel produces a broad range of original series aimed at children, pre-teens and young teenagers, including animated series. If your kids are fans of Paw Patrol, look for it on Nick Jr. Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. are both available on Philo and DirecTV Now; Sling TV only has Nick Jr.
On demand through the Nick app
Nick is the must-have app for kids who want to watch The Fairly OddParents, Bubble Guppies, and other Nick favorites on iOS and Android mobile devices. Kids can also play games and watch some episodes of their favorite shows on demand on streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. A subscription is required to access some content, but before subscribing check to see if the series you’re looking for is available from your existing Hulu or Amazon Prime accounts.
Live streaming on Disney Channel and Disney Junior
Disney Channel has huge hits like Andi Mack, Raven’s Back, Stuck in the Middle and more on their live TV channel, while the Junior version has Gigantosaurus, Fancy Nancy, and Elena of Avalor. You can watch the live broadcast of the channels on Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, and DirecTV Now. You can view information about each of [these services here].
On Demand through the WATCH Disney app or WATCH Disney Junior app
Disney Channel and Disney Junior each have official apps on iOS and Android where kids can watch current and past favorites on demand. The apps also include age-appropriate games and access to songs from Radio Disney or Radio Disney Junior. Streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV will also access some content, but a subscription is required for complete access.
Kids love animated shows like Adventure Time, The Amazing World of Gumball, Clarence and so much more. Cartoon Network is available as a live broadcast on Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu Live TV, fuboTV, You Tube TV. Subscribers on PlayStation Vue also get access to premium content on the app included. You can view information about each of [these services here].(https://nocable.org/streaming-channels).
On demand through the Cartoon Network app
Cartoon Network’s official app is free for iOS and Android devices. Kids can watch popular cartoons for free and unlock additional episodes with a subscription. Streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV will also access some content, but a subscription is required for complete access. Sling TV, which costs $16 per month, appears to be the only skinny bundle provider that includes full access to the app content.
The entertainment world has changed dramatically. While kids programming used to be confined to traditional “kids’ channels” on cable TV, there are many other options for high-quality, on demand content. Kids today don’t sit in front of a television set, they can access streaming services like YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services on any handheld device.
There is so much to watch on Netflix Kids - movies like Incredibles 2, Cars 3, Gnome Alone and original series like A Series of Unfortunate Events and Captain Underpants. Multiple seasons of kid favorites like Super Why, The Magic School Bus, and Goosebumps. Kids can search for videos with strong female characters, or by categories like adventure, action, and animation. Parents set individual profiles on Netflix to Kids to limit access to content appropriate for ages 12 and under.
Hulu has a specific Kids section with a large selection of classic and new shows, cartoons, and movies. You can sort through offerings like the Wiggles, Curious George, Sesame Street, Handy Manny, the Rugrats, and Adventure Time by network, topic, or age. Parents can specify an age on the individual profile to limit options. Hulu offers an ad-free option for $4 more a month which will keep your kids from seeing advertisements during most shows.
The free YouTube Kids app is different than the standard one. It features topics that appeal to and are appropriate for a young audience. Peppa Pig, Arthur, Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine and more. Set parental controls so that your kids can only watch the videos you pre-select, or turn the Search off to limit their experience.
Your kids can watch series like Niko and the Sword of Light, Kung Fu Panda, Tumble Leaf, and Little Big Awesome if you’re a member of Amazon Prime. You can even share the wonder of Mayberry with your kids with reruns of the Andy Griffith show. There are thousands of award-winning kids’ original videos and series included with your annual subscription. Once you’re logged into the Amazon Prime Video service through the app or your streaming device, you can sort videos by age, interest, and more.
Amazon Channels show subscription-only content that is available if you bill it to your Amazon account. You can subscribe to channels like Nick Hits, Curiosity Stream, Boomerang, Noggin, DreamWorks TV, Toonscape, Pio Pio, and Miao Mi. The available content will show up in your Amazon Prime account or you can sign in to the app on an iOS or Android device.
In Roku’s channel store, you can add subscription services to Disney Now, Nick Jr. and Nick, or take advantage of free programming from channels like Noggin, Blippi, Filrise Kids, Hasbro Studios, and more. There’s a Fortnite channel, Girls’ Channel, Classic Cartoon TV, and a channel where you can watch Minecraft gamers. Parents can access these channels by choosing Streaming Channels, Kids & Family, and selecting individual channels to add to the Roku home page.
After school specials, Schoolhouse Rock, and Saturday morning cartoons were once the only time TV programming was dedicated to kids, but dedicated children’s channels like Disney and Nickelodeon changed the landscape during the era of cable. Now that consumers stream almost all entertainment on demand, the way children's TV shows were once managed has changed dramatically.
If you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon or use a streaming device like Roku, you already have access to a treasure trove of children’s programming. Just like with adults, the challenge with streaming isn’t a lack of access to content, it’s sorting through and finding what you want.
Megan Southard is a writer, mom, technology enthusiast, and movie junkie. She dreads the day her kids have to explain gadgets to her and is old enough to say, "I was the remote for our TV growing up."
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