TV – it’s not dead yet! The TV set is king of the kids.

TV – it’s not dead yet! The TV set is king of the kids.
August 9, 2017 Melissa Borg

9th August 2017: OK – the headline got your attention and here’s why!  In the world of devices, platforms, streaming and on-demand – the humble TV set still rules the household when we watch our favourite shows.  Especially for children and the numbers tell the story – 92% of children are still using the humble TV set to watch children’s programs.

The latest report from the Australian Media and Communications Authority titled “Children’s television viewing and multi-screen behaviour” goes some way to clarifying how Australian kids aged 0-14 were watching TV and children’s content in 2016.  While the TV set is by far the most frequently used device, six in 10 children also used a tablet, at least weekly, to view children’s programs.

However, they aren’t watching the ‘old-fashioned’ Free-To-Air (FTA) TV content on the TV set like they used to, rather they’re flocking to other platforms to view.  For example, 68% of children from 0 – 14 watched children’s programs online via free sites such as YouTube. Nearly half of them (45%) watched FTA catch-up services, and a similar number used online subscription services such as Netflix or Stan.

While the report reveals that kids are in fact still sitting in front of the TV and letting their eyes go square (as the common parental refrain goes), they are actually watching less TV in general, particularly when it comes to live broadcasts; but viewing is happening on more platforms and devices than ever before – indicating the decline of traditional kids TV viewing.

The report also revealed:

Children are watching less TV, but still tuning in at the same times: In 2016, children aged 0–14 watched 92 minutes of TV per day, 30 minutes less compared to 2005. Time spent viewing free to air (FTA) TV declined for all age groups, which led the downward trend. Children aged 13–17 FTA viewing declined from 100 minutes in 2005 to just 43 minutes in 2016, while those aged 0–4 went from 120 minutes to 95 minutes per day. However, time at which kids tune in still peaks between 8 – 9 am or 7 – 8 pm on both weekdays and weekends.

ABC still wins the eyeballs with its kid’s content: ABC channels continue to reach a substantially higher percentage of the child audience than commercial networks. This is particularly true for those aged 0-4, but steadily decreases with age. The most watched channel for those aged 5-12 is the Nine Network, while 13-17 year olds are tuning into the Seven and Nine Networks equally.

Children’s programs are still popular, but reality TV is making gains: While spending less time watching broadcast TV, children are still watching content made for them. Children’s programs made up 16 of the top 30 programs watched by kids. However, interestingly, reality TV dominated the top 10, making up 7 of the top 10 programs watched by children in 2016 – with MasterChef taking out the top spot.

Kids are getting device-savvy: On average, children now watch 10.6 hours of screen content per week, of which includes 6.7 hours of children’s programs. However this isn’t limited to just what’s watched via the TV set, children are now using, on average, 3.2 devices to watch children’s programs across the week. The TV set is still the most popular device, but tablets aren’t far behind and smartphones are making gains (see infographic below).

Multi-screening rubbing off on the kids: 55% of children aged 0-14 are found to be multi-tasking while watching children’s programs. This increases with age, with a whopping 74% of those aged 10-14 claiming to do so. Unsurprisingly, this is most likely to be with a second screen. Tablets were the most common second screen, with popular activities including playing games, watching videos online and doing homework.

To get the full lowdown on kids TV time, you can access the full report here.