The Daily Wire has launched a new streaming service for kids, Bentkey, which the company is billing as a conservative alternative to Disney+. But those eager to ditch Disney for making “everything gay” may be disappointed to find the service’s catalog is filled primarily with relicensed and redubbed European and Asian cartoons, along with a few (un)original programs.
In an October 16 announcement, The Daily Wire touted Bentkey’s more than 150 episodes of kids programming across 18 shows, including four original programs. The Daily Wire is heavily invested in the success of the new app. The company reportedly plans to invest over $100 million in the service over the next three years, and Daily Wire host Matt Walsh admitted that if Bentkey isn’t a success, it could “take the whole company down.”
In a social media video, Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing postured Bentkey as a direct response to Disney “using their brand” to “indoctrinate kids into the LGBTQIA cult” and push ”all the worst excesses of the woke left.”
“Walt Disney loved America,” Boreing said. “The company he founded thinks America is systemically racist. And beyond just their content, Disney is a corporation who pushes all the worst excesses of the woke left: paying for its employees to travel for abortions, promoting ‘anti-racism’ indoctrination of its employees, and going to war on behalf of radical left-wing social policy in Florida.”
While Boreing and other Daily Wire figures have marketed Bentkey as an alternative to Disney and its “woke” agenda, those who fork over $99 per year for its programming may be disappointed to find a platform whose episode numbers are boosted by relicensed foreign cartoons and rip-offs of acclaimed children’s shows that are less conservative and more boring.
Most of Bentkey's shows are relicensed foreign cartoons and apolitical educational programming
On his podcast, Walsh has claimed that Bentkey is a response to children’s entertainment being “entirely captured by the left” and The Daily Wire is the first company to make a “serious effort to do anything about it.”
In reality, the majority of the platform’s programming is content licensed from European animation studios. While Walsh claimed the shows are “centered around timeless truths and virtues” that are “conservative values,” most of its programs only present “conservative values” insofar as they generally feature cisgender white characters and conveniently ignore the existence of homosexuality.
One show featured on Bentkey, for instance, is Clangers, a 2015 remake of a classic BBC stop-motion show about a family of mouse-like aliens. Bentkey also features eight other animated shows that originally aired in European countries, and one from Singapore, before being licensed in English.
In addition to foreign cartoons, Bentkey also licenses two U.S.-produced shows, including a series produced by Telco Productions and the San Diego Zoo called Walking Wild, featuring educational videos about various zoo animals. Another show called Gus Plus Us, which also streams on Amazon and Google Play, is a Sesame Street rip-off produced by a home-school mom from Texas. The show follows two puppets, Gus and Karrot, and their token human sidekick, Lucy, as they go on adventures and sing songs.
Bentkey also licenses videos from the successful YouTube channel How Ridiculous. The Australian-based YouTube channel boasts over 19 million subscribers and publishes videos of its hosts dropping objects from high places and conducting other wacky experiments. While the channel’s content isn’t overtly conservative or religious, one of the show’s hosts, Brett Stanford, said that the show’s goal was “to glorify Him in all we do."
“We believe he’s given us this channel as a gift to be well looked after and nurtured to bless the whole world,” Stanford said.
Half of Bentkey’s original shows are rip-offs of acclaimed children’s programs
Boreing has said that Bentkey is not “about teaching kids partisan politics.” To Boreing’s point, Media Matters reviewed some of Bentkey’s original content and found its programming to be less conservative and more bland and unoriginal.
The platform’s flagship program is an animated series called Chip Chilla, which stars anti-vax former Broadway actress Lauren Osnes and right-wing actor Rob Schneider as chinchilla parents home-schooling their kits, who go on adventures and, at one point, pretend to send a rocket ship to the moon. Critics have described the show as a “dull” and blatant knockoff of the popular Australian cartoon Bluey, which portrays a family of Australian cattle dogs.
One Daily Wire original show is an exercise program called Kid Fit Go, that delivers HIIT workouts to kids. (The Daily Wire frequently pushes fatphobic rhetoric and has compared arguments made by body acceptance advocates as similar to “individuals promoting ‘transgender rights’ for children.”)
Another original, Kid Explorer, features children apolitically explaining historical topics like the evolution of the telephone and the biography of Abraham Lincoln.
The app’s other flagship show is a Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood rip-off called A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay. The show follows the titular character Mabel Maclay as she chats with recurring characters, answers a daily question from the children viewers, sings songs, and visits Bannerberry — Maclay’s version of Mister Rogers’ iconic Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
Though Daily Wire hosts and executives claim Bentkey is the future of children’s programming and a right-wing alternative to Disney+, Bentkey seems content to rebroadcast old shows and offer subpar remakes of classics.