SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Storyline Online Sees Viewership Triple During Pandemic

With every kid in the country being home-schooled, business is booming for Storyline Online, SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s children’s literacy website, which streams free videos of well-known actors reading aloud from children’s books.

“We’ve seen a major spike in traffic to our site, video views and activity guide downloads,” SAG-AFTRA Foundation president Courtney B. Vance told Deadline. “During peak learning hours in the COVID-19 pandemic, we are often receiving over 2,000 views a minute on our website.”

Viewers have more than tripled, and downloads of activity guides for teachers and parents have skyrocketed more than tenfold during the coronavirus pandemic, when remote learning became the standardized norm within households. The site received more than 8 million video views from March 15-April 15 last year but had over 25 million views during the same period this year. And while a year ago there were more than 14,000 downloads of the parent/teacher guides, this year there were more than 180,000 in that same one-month span.

Kids can see readers including Oscar winner Rami Malek (The Empty Pot), Oprah Winfrey (The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen), Sarah Silverman (A Tale of Two Beasts) and Wanda Sykes (The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake). Other famous readers include Lily Tomlin, Chris Pine, Kristen Bell, Rita Moreno, Viola Davis, Kevin Costner, Betty White, CCH Pounder, Sean Astin, Allison Janney and many others. The readings are accompanied by lively animation and art work.

“Teachers have known about Storyline Online for years and have used our videos and guides in the classroom, but now parents are finding out about Storyline Online with their children at home,” Vance said. “They are also using the site to promote remote learning and reading. With the launch of our first book read fully in English and in Spanish by Jaime Camil, we’re seeing a 500% increase in video views on their first day. We’re very excited to have so many new viewers, and to be reaching an even greater audience worldwide.”

Making a pitch for donations, he said: “As we’re a nonprofit, and we don’t run any advertising on our videos or site, we’re totally reliant on donations to produce our content. We hope that this massive growth in our audience will translate to goodwill and major donations to Storyline Online so we can produce more read alouds, advance children’s literacy and inspire a love of reading in many millions more children around the globe.”

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