Entertaining kids is easier than ever these days. Armed with only a £35 Fire tablet, you can keep them amused for hours on end with apps, games and videos. But Amazon’s Prime Instant Video isn’t the only video streaming service in town which caters to kids: there are plenty of options, including the new Sky Kids and DisneyLife. Here are the best streaming services for kids videos. See also: Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video
Best kids’ streaming services: Sky Kids vs DisneyLife
These are the two newest services to arrive in the UK. Previously Disney titles were licenced out to other streaming services, but you couldn’t ever get everything in one place. Now with DisneyLife (currently exclusive to the UK) you can, but it’ll cost you £10 per month, and that’s more than most services.
But you get more than you do with most services. The brilliantly designed app also includes Disney games, soundtracks and e-books. Plus, kids can pick their favourite character as their profile avatar and get fun facts, mini movies and more. You’re allowed to download one Disney game per month as part of the subscription.
The Sky Kids app is also really well designed, and the service won’t cost you any extra if you already subscribe to Sky Family, Variety bundle or have Sky Q. So it’s not exactly free, but it’s a great addition if you already have access to the channels on your Sky box. For more, see: What is Sky Kids?
Currently, though, you can’t download shows in the app, which makes it useless if you were planning to keep the kids entertained while travelling or on holiday (where Wi-Fi is often too poor to stream video).
DisneyLife, on the other hand, lets you download everything and will helpfully tell you how much space each video will use up before you download it.
If you don’t pay for Sky but want to stream Nickelodeon, Nick Jr and the Disney Channel, you can always pay for a Now TV subscription. There’s a choice of a Now TV Entertainment pass which costs £6.99 per month and you can also get access to movies with the Now TV Sky Movies pass which is £9.99 per month.
See also: Best kids tablets of 2016
Best kids’ streaming services: Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
DisneyLife is great if your kids can’t get enough Disney, but Amazon and Netflix arguably offer more for your money as you get all the children’s shows and films alongside all the great stuff for parents.
Netflix does a better job of separating out the kids content. When you first launch the app it asks “Who’s watching?” and you can password-protect the parent profile(s) to ensure the little ones can only watch what’s appropriate.
There’s no such segregation with the Amazon app, although you can set a PIN to stop your kids watching anything without your say so. The only way to give them access to age-appropriate videos is on an Amazon tablet which includes the Fire for Kids app – this is available even on those tablets which aren’t specifically ‘Kids Edition’ models. (There is a Kids Zone on Amazon’s website, but few people will choose to use this over an app. Currently there’s no way to even filter within the app to see just kids’ content.)
Amazon’s service works out a little cheaper per month than Netflix and also includes a music streaming service plus the excellent one-day (or even same-day) delivery service on Amazon Prime items.
However, one of the biggest benefits is the option to download videos and watch them offline. Netflix has basically said it will never offer offline watching, so you can’t take episodes of Paw Patrol or Team Umizoomi with you: you need an internet connection.
Amazon doesn’t allow you to download everything, so there may be some disappointed faces when they find out that they can’t watch Brave on the plane. But there’s usually a good alternative – the Lego Movie was available to download at the time of writing.
Here’s a brief comparison of the four services:
Best kids streaming services: Free options
You don’t have to spend any money to get some decent content for your kids. BBC iPlayer is the most obvious free alternative to the paid-for services. It may not have a huge range, but there’s more than enough high-quality stuff there which you can download and watch offline.
From Alphablocks, Boj and Bing for younger kids to the Furchester Hotel, I Can Cook and excellent Topsy and Tim for older ones, it’s hard to complain.
The app is available for most phones and tablets, although bear in mind that downloading isn’t supported on all devices and platforms (notably Windows Phone).
If your child is a Peppa Pig or Ben Holly fan, they can get their fix in the My5 app (previously Demand 5) but there’s no support for downloading shows.
There’s nothing of note in the All 4 app for kids, but another option is YouTube. It’s possible to download YouTube videos, but not within the YouTube app itself. It’s a bit of a faff, but some apps including the new Softorino YouTube Converter let you quickly copy multiple links to YouTube videos which will then be downloaded and transferred straight to your iPhone or iPad’s native Videos app.
If you happen to have a decent internet connection, there’s an almost limitless amount of kids content on YouTube, but you should supervise your child as it’s all too easy for them to start watching something inappropriate when a video ends: the suggestions for other things to watch aren’t always ideal.
See also: How much screen time is safe for kids?