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Amazon’s Kindle FreeTime Unlimited (But It Isn’t Really Free)

Today Amazon took a noteworthy step to make the Kindle Fire more of a children’s tablet, by announcing a content streaming program by subscription. Here’s the text of the press release:

SEATTLE—December 5, 2012—(NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon today introduced Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, bringing together for the first time all of the types of content kids and parents love—books, games, educational apps, movies and TV shows—into one simple, unlimited, easy-to-use service for kids ages 3-8.  For a special monthly price of just $2.99 per child or $6.99 for the whole family, Prime members get unlimited access to thousands of popular kids titles.  Customers who are not yet Prime members can sign up for FreeTime Unlimited for a monthly price of $4.99 per child or $9.99 per family.  FreeTime Unlimited will be available on the all-new Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9” as part of a free, over-the-air software update that will be automatically delivered in the coming weeks.

Kids will love FreeTime Unlimited because:

  • They can explore all the content on their own and pick for themselves what to read, watch or play next
  • All of their favorite characters are included—Elmo, Dora, Thomas & Friends, Cinderella, Buzz Lightyear, Lightning McQueen, Curious George and more
  • With individual profiles, everything in their library is theirs—no sharing a home screen with siblings or parents and no losing their place in a movie or TV show when someone else picks up the Kindle Fire
  • They can easily explore their favorite topics—pick a favorite subject like “Princesses” and navigate seamlessly between princess books, princess games and princess TV shows
  • Parents will love FreeTime Unlimited because:
  • All apps have in-app payments, advertisements and social media removed
  • They don’t have to worry that kids will run up a bill
  • All-you-can-eat pricing means they don’t have to enter into negotiations with kids about what to buy or rent—“You already rented that yesterday” is a relic of the past
  • All of the content is already pre-screened for age-appropriateness

“As a parent it’s hard to predict what my daughter is going to enjoy, or which movie she’s going to watch 50 times in a row—so I buy a range of content and hope for the best—but I get it wrong frequently,” said Peter Larsen, Vice President, Amazon Kindle.  “FreeTime Unlimited gives kids the freedom to explore age-appropriate content on their own and pick for themselves what they want to watch, play or read next.  For as little as $2.99 a month, your child will have unlimited access to thousands of popular books, games, educational apps, movies and TV shows from Disney, Nickelodeon, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, PBS, Sesame Workshop and more.”

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited is an optional extension to Kindle FreeTime, a free feature on the new Kindle Fire family, which re-invents parental controls and offers parents new tools like Time Limits, which helps parents manage their kids’ screen time. FreeTime Unlimited is designed to make FreeTime even better for parents and kids: when a parent signs up for FreeTime Unlimited, thousands of content titles automatically appear in FreeTime, sorted by their kids’ age and gender, alongside the titles parents have already approved from their own collection of content.  Kids can follow their own imaginations across books, games, educational apps, movies and TV shows without being dependent on help from mom and dad.  Parents can feel comfortable handing off their Kindle Fire to their kids, knowing that all of the content is age-appropriate. Kids will recognize many of their favorite characters like Elmo, Dora, Thomas & Friends, Cinderella, Buzz Lightyear, Lightning McQueen and Curious George—all available with Kindle FreeTime Unlimited.

“With games like Where’s My Water? and Where’s My Perry? Disney is bringing hours of entertainment to Kindle users in any age group,” said Tim O’Brien, VP of Business Development, Disney Games. “Amazon’s Kindle FreeTime Unlimited is a great way to introduce some of Disney’s most popular apps to an even larger audience.”

“Nickelodeon has been serving kids for more than 33 years – providing them with fun and enjoyable experiences on multiple platforms,” said Steve Youngwood, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Digital Nickelodeon. “We are thrilled to offer our content as part of Amazon’s innovative new service for kids.”

“We are thrilled that HIT Entertainment’s trusted content portfolio is part of the launch of Kindle FreeTime Unlimited,” said Natasha Fishman, Senior Director, Digital Media & Marketing, HIT Entertainment.  “Our beloved brands, including Thomas & Friends©, Bob the Builder©, Fireman Sam©, Barney©, Angelina Ballerina©, and Pingu© encourage discovery and inspire imagination in kids and are a perfect complement to FreeTime Unlimited’s carefully curated mix.   Whether it’s playing with apps, reading e-books, or watching movies, fans will have plenty of their favorite HIT characters from which to choose.”

“PBS KIDS is dedicated to providing educational and engaging content that opens up worlds of possibilities for kids,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, Children’s Media, PBS. “We are excited to work with Amazon on Kindle FreeTime Unlimited to offer a new opportunity for today’s on-the-go kids to play and explore with their favorite PBS KIDS characters in an age-appropriate way.”

“I am excited that Reading Rainbow has been chosen by Amazon to be a key representative of quality children’s programming in their new FreeTime Unlimited offering,” said LeVar Burton, Host and Producer of the iconic television show.  “In making these 25 episodes of Reading Rainbow available for children, I hope that they and their parents can enjoy watching the series together, and remind themselves that through the pages of a good book, they can go anywhere.”

“We are thrilled to work with Amazon’s newest service to deliver some of the most engaging educational content we’ve created for children and their families,” said Scott Chambers, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Media Distribution, Sesame Workshop.  “From Sesame Street episodes, eBooks, and apps to episodes of our other award-winning series The Electric Company and Pinky Dinky Doo, our offering encourages children to learn while having fun with some of their favorite characters.”

The Best Games and Learning Apps for Kids
FreeTime Unlimited offers many of the most popular children’s games, with all in-app ads and in-app purchasing removed.  Games include Disney’s bestselling Where’s My Water? and Where’s My Perry?, as well as Fruit Ninja Puss N’ Boots, Cut The Rope, Peekaboo Barn, Counting with the Very Hungry Caterpillar, Magic Piano and popular early development games like Kids Learn to Read, My First Puzzles Dinosaurs and SUPER WHY!

Favorite Children’s Books
Kindle FreeTime Unlimited features beautiful children’s picture books, including new and classic favorites like Big Nate, Ivy and Bean, Phineas & Ferb, Shrek, and Kung Fu Panda as well as books by Caldecott-honored authors such as Chris Van Allsburg’s “Jumanji” and Barbara Lehman’s “The Red Book.”

FreeTime Unlimited also includes hundreds of eBook apps with Read-to-Me functionality and in-book games from characters such as Thomas & Friends, Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo, Arthur, Duck and Goose, Caillou and Superman, and from award-winning children’s author Sandra Boynton (“Moo, Baa, La La La!”).

Popular Kids Movies and TV Shows
FreeTime Unlimited includes movies from Barney, Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam and Angelina Ballerina, as well as TV shows like Sesame Street, Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, Diego, Yo Gabba Gabba, The Backyardigans, Rugrats, Arthur, Reading Rainbow, Caillou,  and Garfield.

Amazon is also working with Common Sense Media, the non-profit organization that provides independent ratings of books, movies, television, apps, games, websites, and music, and many of their top-rated media choices for children are included in Kindle FreeTime Unlimited.

“Millions of parents trust Common Sense Media’s ratings and reviews to find quality media for their kids, and we’re excited to work with Amazon to inform a great deal of the selections available in Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, making this a great choice for parents,” said Amy Guggenheim Shenkan, President and COO of Common Sense Media. “We also endorse FreeTime Unlimited’s ad-free environment and blocking of in-app purchases for kids as we know from experience that these features will make parents more comfortable.”

FreeTime Unlimited will be available on the all-new Kindle Fire family as part of a free, over-the-air software update that will be automatically delivered in the coming weeks.  After receiving the software update, customers can sign up for FreeTime Unlimited from within the Kindle FreeTime app on their $159 Kindle Fire, $199 Kindle Fire HD, and $299 Kindle Fire HD 8.9”.  Customers can learn more at www.amazon.com/freetimeunlimited.

Filed in: Ages, All Ages

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