Akili Kids seeks educational content

By Content Nigeria reporter
June 21, 2024


Akili Kids, the children’s channel from Akili Network in Kenya, is in the market for educational content from local and international producers, according to the company’s CEO.

Jeff Schon

Launched in 2020 in Nairobi, Akili Kids is a 24/7 free-to-air channel targeting children of all ages and families, with programme blocks throughout the day aimed at different age groups.

Akili Network broadcasts Akili Kids! via free-to-air terrestrial TV; satellite platforms StarTimes, DStv, GOtv and Zuku; mobile platforms Baze and K24 Plus; and YouTube.

Founder and CEO Jeff Schon was at the recent at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival where he has shared Akili Kids’ strategy and content requirements.

According to the exec, around 50% of Akili Kids’ programming is produced in Africa, with the other half coming from international producers. The channel airs both animated and live-action series.

“We are looking for content where there’s a learning outcome, broadly defined,” Schon said, citing US pubcaster PBS Kids’ series SciGirls as an example of a suitable show that Akili Kids already has on its channel.

“SciGirls features eight- to 12-year-old girls doing science experiments. Experiments are fun but mainly it’s a programme that encourages girls to go into science,” he added, noting that “we do want the shows to be entertaining; we’re not a curriculum.”

Importantly, all content that Akili Kids picks up must work for Kenyan audiences and is evaluated for suitability by the local programming team.

“That’s not where I weigh in,” said Schon, who is originally from the US, “but it was a surprise when we were looking at acquiring content to launch the channel and Bob the Builder was hugely popular. It was the Kenyan programming team who said people are going to love Bob. And they were right; Bob the Builder was a very successful show on the channel.”

Recent new titles for the channel include The Mysteries of Jabali & Sauti, created by three leading Kenyan creative houses, StudioAng, The LAM Sisterhood and Kikapu.Studio.

Former Sprout and Nickelodeon exec Dea Connick Perez is Akili’s head of programming acquisition and scheduling, while Eddie Olang is head of partnerships. At present, Akili Kids is only available in Kenya, but Schon hopes to expand throughout sub-Saharan Africa, potentially beginning in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.