Treehouse video app: Is 10 bucks a month too much?


"Max and Ruby, Max and Ruby, Max and Ruby." These are the words my two-year-old son hollers when he sees me reach for "his" iPad. Not only is my little guy obsessed with this popular cartoon, I'm fairly certain that he thinks these little bunnies are his friends.

However, since the show only airs at certain times on Treehouse TV, I had to find a better way to get access to "Max & Ruby" on the go. While YouTube seemed like the best place to get video clips of the show, if you go this route you'll be sorely disappointed. Most of the uploads are grainy, many of them shot on camcorders in front of old-school televisions.

When I heard that Treehouse had an app, I was immediately excited (yes, this is life as a Mom). When I discovered it on iTunes I was immediately disappointed that the ratings were just "meh." In fact, many downloaders felt ripped off. After all, this app requires a monthly subscription of $9.99. One commenter said the price point is "ridiculous" and that the producers are "out of touch with reality."

Hmm. Clearly, they must be right? Nonetheless, the wee one wanted "Max & Ruby" and in the interest of "research" I clicked download and I subscribed. Within the app there are loads of videos, but there is also a colouring book that my son found interesting for all of three seconds. When I revisited the listing of shows and episodes, I immediately knew that my cash was well-spent.

Not only is this app simple for a toddler to navigate, it has all of the best shows on Treehouse (yes, two years in, I'm an expert). From Max & Ruby to Dora the Explorer to The Cat in the Hat, each show has a dozen or more episodes and the video quality is fantastic on the iPad. Better yet, you can create playlists if your child is a fan of just a few shows and you'll always know, whether you're heading to Grandma's house for the weekend or you're in dire need of some quiet time in a restaurant, that some kid-friendly video content is just a click away.

I often pay $1.99 for my favourite shows on iTunes, so I while Treehouse is a little costly, there are hundred videos available within the download and unlimited viewing. Finally, I don't think the question is so much why we're paying this amount for the app, but instead why we're paying so much for cable television when we don't watch that much TV - and the reality is that almost all of our family's top programs are now just a click away on a tablet.