MBPT Spotlight: Traditional TV Is Still Kids Favorite, Nielsen Study Finds

Traditional television is still the favorite platform of media consumption for kids across all age groups, a recently released Nielsen study finds, and that's good news for marketers who continue to spend big dollars trying to reach TV-watching kids.

However, there are some caveats that marketers need to be aware of when putting together campaigns aimed at kids of various age groups.

First, the Nielsen study, titled "Kids Audience Behavior Across Platforms," documents that the amount of time spent viewing TV has decreased slightly for teens since 2011. The study also finds that the platforms and content accessed by kids vary by age and that those varying behaviors in media content consumption appear to begin changing around age 8.

Other general findings of the study: Parents and other adults in the home play a significant role in both how much and what type of media content kids consume both on TVs and computers; among kids, simultaneous use of TV and computers has decreased since 2011; kids use mobile devices at young ages and for assorted activities; and the content consumed on mobile devices differs from the content consumed on TVs and computers in terms of both audience and type.

Regarding kids’ TV viewing, the study finds that teens 14-17 showed the biggest decrease in TV viewing, with 99% of that age group during a particular month watching TV in 2011, compared to 96% of that age group in 2014. Among those in age groups 2 to 4 years old, 5 to 7 years old and 8 to 10 years old, 99% watched TV in a given month in 2011, compared to 97% in 2014. Among kids 11 to 13, 99% watch TV in 2011 compared to 98% in 2014.

Children’s programming is still the most popular TV genre for all kids 2 to 17, the study finds, but its popularity declines as kids age. Some 89% of kids 2-4, 90% of kids 5-7, 87% of kids 8-10, 87% of kids 11 to 13 watch children’s programming on a weekly basis. However, that percentage falls to 75% among kids 14-17.

Among teens 14-17 the most popular programming genre on TV are scripted dramas, with 88% saying they watch them on a weekly basis. Next are feature films, watched by 85%, followed by sitcoms, watched by 82%, and documentaries, watched by 76%.

The study also found relative stability among computer and online usage among kids, with not much change in the percentage of usage by age group between 2012 and 2014. Among 11-13 year olds, computer usage increase from 24% to 26% over the three-year period, but among 14-17 year olds, it actually decreased from 30% to 29%.

Search is the biggest online activity by 14-17 year olds, undertaken by 80% of that age group. Next most popular among that teen age group are general interest portals, visited by 75% and email and other online communications sites, used or visited by 73%. Some 67% of teens 14-17 visit video content distributors online in a given month, while 65% play online games.

The study finds that computer social networking online begins to decrease between ages 11 and 17 as kids begin to use more mobile devices with apps.

As for co-viewing at home, children’s programming is the most co-viewed genre until after age 10, when drama becomes the most co-viewed watched TV genre by kids and adults.

The study finds that there is not a high level of co-viewing on computers among kids and adults, or for that matter, among kids with other kids. In the 14-17 year old age group, only 12% co-view via computer with anyone and only 7% co-view with adults.

Simultaneous usage of TV and computer felt significantly between 2013 and 2014 among kids 8 to 17. Among kids 8-10, simultaneous use of TV and computer fell from 43% in 2013 to 33% in 2014. Among kids 11-13, the percentage declined from 54% to 39%, while among teens 14-17, the percentage dropped from 46% to 35%.

Kids’ use of tablets peaks at 69% at around age 10 and begins to decrease. Among kids 12 and 13, 50% have access to a tablet, while 70% have a smartphone. Among teens 14 to 17, 50% also have access to a tablet, but 80% have a smartphone.

Most kids 2 to 7 use tablets to watch video, while 62% of kids 8 to 10, 75% of kids 11 to 13 and 72% of teens 14-17 use apps on tablets. App usage is also higher on smartphones among the older kids’ age categories.

In its conclusion, Nielsen writes that “despite widespread use of both tablets and smartphones, the integration of these devices in the home does not seem to be lessening kids’ use of TVs or computers overall.”

But Nielsen adds that the decline in the simultaneous use of home computers and TV suggests that tablets and smartphones could be replacing desktop computers for kids’ multi-tasking activities in front of the TV.

Overall, Nielsen says it is important for marketers to understand how kids use the various platforms so that they know how to reach them with their messages.

“Developing a deeper understanding of how children of different ages use various media consumption platforms is crucial to measuring and reaching this audience," the report says.