“Daddy, can we watch the white box?” This has become a commonplace expression around these parts since the intro of the Ameba. The Ameba system is new kid-centric set-top box, where parents pay a subscription fee to access kids’ programming. Programs are selected at the official Ameba site and then sent directly to the bright white box. Featuring a kid-friendly remote control, the system also allows for multiple profiles customizable to each child.
As for the content itself, the programming on the Ameba comes from high quality production houses like Decode Entertainment, Breakthrough New Media, and Marble Media. That being said, you will have to dig for new programs that suit your child’s interest, as you will not find Wubbzy, Brobee or Elmo on Ameba. However, there is no shortage of as-you want-it original and intriguing programming that educates as much as it entertains. Some of our instant favorites included the ballet-themed preschool show The Toy Castle and adventure travel show A World of Wonders.
The question, of course, is the long term viability for a product like this. In an AppleTV, On-Demand, Hulu, Netflix Watch Instantly world, can Ameba find its footing? It depends. First off, while the original and indie content is a huge plus, I think it will need to balance it with headline content to attract buy-in from parents who aren’t willing to take the first step without a name brand. There is also the hardware question. Are families willing to stack another hardware in their entertainment console? Personally, I am less concerned about this. Maia looked at it as her own little cable box – a toybox of sorts, filled with her very own stuff that Mommy and Daddy won’t want to play with.
I look forward to following the progress of this Ameba, and hopefully, its success. It is a commendable effort that a company is working to create a kid-centric content library and set-top box. While they certainly have some hurdles and indirect competition, I hope parents will learn about this service and give it a whirl knowing they can trust the content and its source.
(For a deeper dive into the tech features, check out Daddy Forever’s review.)