Advanced Television

Study: Parents increasingly co-viewing with kids

February 20, 2023

A global study of 5,000 families across 10 countries, spanning six continents, has identified significant trends in the way that families are connecting with media content. Parents are increasingly co-viewing with children as they take a more active role in selecting appropriate content, giving rise to increased fandom opportunities. That said, the report also highlighted the sheer volume of content now available, with the average family now having 5.1 TV subscriptions, identifying just how challenging it is for content to stand out amongst the noise.

The study of 20,147 family members was carried out by insights, strategy and creative agency Kids Industries (KI) and hones in on what it means to be a family in 2023 and presents a timestamp of family life today around the world, in terms of attitudes, media habits, mental health and hopes for the future.

Key insights include:

The role content plays amongst families is increasing

The amount of content available for children and their parents has gone from abundant to prolific to overwhelming, creating an ecosystem in which quality and engagement plays an ever increasing role.

  • The average global family has 6.1 devices
  • The average child owns 3.1
  • Average number of TV subscriptions is 5.1.
  • In the UK, there are 42,808 titles to choose from Prime Video, Netflix, Now TV and Disney+.

“There is a risk associated with this,” warns Gary Pope, CEO and Co-Founder at KI. “Too much choice, delivered too quickly at too low a quality will struggle to build a supportive and invested fanbase – a community that will invest in merchandise, experiences and more.”

The global family is just as likely to watch live tv as streamed

53 per cent of children watch live TV at least once a week compared to 55 per cent watching streamed content.

  • Co-viewing time as a family has grown significantly. In 2019, 74 per cent of parents said they co-viewed with their children at least once a month. In 2023, 73 per cent of parents co-view at least half the time.
  • Children are most likely to discover new streamed content from:
    • YouTube (57 per cent)
    • Recommendations from friends and family (51 per cent)
    • Adverts on VoD/streaming platforms (37 per cent)
    • Live TV advertising (32 per cent)
  • YouTube plays a huge role in brand discovery
    • 50 per cent of children find new brands and products on YouTube
    • 46 per cent from friends and family recommendations
    • 30 per cent through live/broadcast TV advertising.

“Both linear and streamed content have something to offer children,” said Pope. “But, in my opinion, linear is gaining momentum because of trust. It offers a viewership moment even if it’s not as frequent as streaming does, making an ‘event’ something to look forward to, something to anticipate. A programme becomes a special moment for families meaning franchise and fandom are able to flourish.

There is an emergent global parent that is driving a change in the way global children’s media is delivered and consumed

Parents want content that they can trust with 32 per cent saying “Negative media the child is exposed to” is the biggest challenge they face.

Parents’ top 5 priorities from media content are:

  • Positive role models for children – 52 per cent
  • The opportunity to watch/play together and have fun – 47 per cent
  • Soft education e.g., problem solving – 42 per cent
  • Story-lines explaining real-world issues – 38 per cent
  • Focus on imagination and fantasy – 38 per cent

“Our first share of the research findings focuses on trends in the streaming space and reveals how today, forming a connection to content is fundamental for a programme’s success,” explains Pope. “In the fragmented world of children’s media, this is becoming both more important and yet more scarce than ever.”

“In a time where our research shows that 89 per cent of three-to-five-year-olds can navigate a smartphone, but only 14 per cent can tie their shoelaces, we can see how models are shifting right before our eyes. Brands that aren’t building fans in significant numbers connected to the stories they tell, should be concerned.”

“It’s clear that for children, content consumption has become the main free time activity, ahead of any type of active play. We’re not going to be able to change this, so we need to (and we have a responsibility to) make sure that the content we create for these audiences is as nutritious as it is possible to be.”

“There are a range of tactics and strategies that children’s media producers can do to ensure they connect meaningfully with families right around the world. We’ll cover these in depth at our conference in March, but they include developing content that can be shared between generations through storytelling and humour, building a lifestyle brand universe (not just entertainment) and making emotional connections as the virtual and real-world crosser over via shared experiences.”

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