Advertising to Kids on TV

Children are watching more Pay TV than a decade ago

Advertising to Kids on TV

Recent research from Childwise was widely reported this month as a ‘landmark change’ in the habits of young people, as they now spend more time playing and socialising online than watching television programmes. Children claim to spend 3 hours online each day, compared with 2.1 hours watching television. Unhelpfully for advertisers the results were reported as ‘online is up and TV is down’, as if substitution of time spent (and affection, by implication) has occurred, and out of the blue as well. However, with TV now being such an integral element of online usage there is much more to the story, and the implications for advertisers are very different to what the headlines have suggested.

On the face of it, there has been a small decline in kids’ linear viewing to total TV…but this masks what is really going on via TV sets. If we dig a bit deeper into industry data (i.e. the rigorously-measured variety) we see a different picture emerging:

(a) growth in viewing to pay TV kids content on linear TV

(b) growth in viewing to VoD and catch-up via the TV set

(c) an increase in all activities via the TV set (including games consoles)


  • Kids’ viewing to kids’ content on linear TV has actually grown during the last decade, even as kids’ leisure alternatives have multiplied exponentially
  • Live + timeshift viewing to pay TV kids channels in 2015 was up by 1.6 minutes a day – not a large increase, but an increase nevertheless.  In addition, VoD and catch-up programmes are being viewed in much greater volumes, on TVs as well as other devices
  • In 2015 kids spent over 2.5 hours a day viewing content via TVs, up by 2 minutes a day on 2014. The increase was largely driven by on demand viewing, and ‘other activities’ such as games console viewing – though perhaps confusingly this term includes broadcast viewing watched through those consoles (such as Sky Go via Xbox, for instance)
  • Whilst consuming video content via multiple devices is undoubtedly important  in the lives of children,  a recent Ofcom report found that when children have a choice of viewing options, they prefer to view on the largest screen – generally the main TV set
  • Of the 3 hours a day children spend online, over 20 minutes is spent consuming online video content. This includes everything from YouTube clips to high quality broadcast TV

Overall indications from the most robust, continuous research sources are that kids’ viewing of broadcast content – whether via TVs or other devices –  has never been stronger. As access to technology goes from strength to strength, and ever-better content  is produced, broadcast TV will continue to be a core element in children’s lives. It follows that kids-orientated advertisers would be well advised to explore TV further: TV is the safest, most effective and most popular medium, viewed on TVs, online and on the go.

Finally if this subject is of interest to you, Lindsey Clay’s (CEO, Thinkbox) lively assessment of the Childwise report is well worth a read:

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