Phil Vischer, co-creator of VeggieTales (and author of a very good memoir), has started something new: JellyTelly. It's an all-internet "TV channel" that offers about 20 minutes of new programming a day. The strategy is to use puppets a lot and combine it with cheap (but nice-looking!) computer/traditional animation. There's hits and misses so far but I hope this will become something, and my kids are watching it and getting into it. No advertising, $2.99/month subscription, first month trial for free.
I also enjoy watching it to see how they're putting together a nice-looking and unique show "on the cheap" in some ways: American history doesn't require royalties, for instance. It's very clever underneath in that way, as well as on the surface. It's really for 5+ years old so far, from the kind of kids I've seen show interest.
It's still in "beta," but looking back to the first few episodes of the Muppet Show, I see similarities, and I think this just might be able to pull it off. My kids are watching it, that's for sure.
Here's Phil Vischer's thoughts from his blog on why he's doing it:
The problem with kids media today isn't that it is evil, it is that it is vapid. Empty. Pointless. It is empty calories. Frosting. Creme filling. Glaze. It has nothing to say to our kids about life on this earth or the God that made them special and loves them very much. And our kids consume it endlessly, on average, three hours per day.
We can do better.
Kids media can inform and shape while it entertains. Heck, Sesame Street figured that out. Mr. Rogers figured that out. But that was forty years ago. Kids media today lacks the will to teach kids anything. Yes, the shows on Nick and Disney are racially diverse. The characters recycle. But beyond that, they are mute.
We can do better. We can show kids the real world - a world where God exists and has something to say to us, if we will just stop and listen. A world where amazing people commit their lives to the work of the church and the benefit of others. A world where celebrity pales in comparison to generosity.