Tech

SuperAwesome Launches Kid-Safe Streaming Platform Rukkaz (EXCLUSIVE)

SuperAwesome, a digital-marketing startup focused on children under 13, is set to launch Rukkaz, its own video platform for kids and family content creators.

The ad-supported video-on-demand site is akin to a YouTube multichannel network in that it does not seek to own or produce the kids-targeted content it supports, but rather allows creators to share video content and safely engage with their 7-to-12-year-old fans. Rukkaz is currently in open development testing with almost 100 content creators.

Ahead of launch, Rukkaz claims almost $10 million of advertising revenue committed by major brands. It will be available on iOS and Android devices with a global rollout planned.

The Rukkaz team is led by Paul Nunn, who was previously managing director of Outfit7, a family games and YouTube publisher — best known for its “Talking Tom and Friends” franchise — acquired by Chinese firm Zhejiang Jinke Entertainment Culture Co.

The launch could scarcely be more timely as scrutiny grows on all video platforms to make their sites safer for youngsters, even if sites were not intended for consumption by children, and as regulatory awareness grows about data collection on young users. It was recently reported that YouTube is considering removing all children’s content from its main platform as it comes under increased pressure from an FTC investigation into its data collection practices for under-13 users.

Although the move from marketing service company to media provider seems a large leap, SuperAwesome is well-positioned to move into the space. It already claims to be the world’s largest kid-safe ad platform in the world, with clients including Mattel, Cartoon Network, and Niantic. And it has defined standards for appropriate and safe advertising in the children’s sector.

“In 2005, when YouTube was founded, children barely registered as an online audience. Today they’re over 40% of all new internet users,” said SuperAwesome founder and CEO Dylan Collins. “YouTube would look very different if it was founded today. While the company has been doing good work with YouTube Kids, we have seen an overwhelming number of requests from creators, content owners and advertisers to do something about the kids online video situation. Everyone feels an additional platform actually designed for kids/family video is required.”

Speaking at the Rise tech conference in Hong Kong this week, Collins expressed surprise that appointing a chief children’s officer has not yet been made a legal requirement in some jurisdictions. “Advertisers starting to realize that when they are operating in environments that are only ever designed for adults, they have huge risks in terms of brand exposure,” Collins said. He pointed out that China may currently be the world leader in devising ways to protect children on the Internet.

U.K.-based SuperAwesome was founded in 2013 and reported revenue of close to $60 million for 2018. In February this year, it raised $13 million of additional financing led by Harbert European Growth Capital. The company already has almost 100 content creators (who have almost 75 million YouTube subscribers combined) signed up to their open development testing phase, with a significant waiting list.

Advertiser demand is considerable from major brands which are keen to support a platform built for responsible kids video engagement. Tenets of the Rukkaz offering include: data privacy, content algorithms with adult (human) supervision, and responsible monetization through kid-safe ads and community engagement.

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