The daily ritual remains strong

We have seen over the last 3 years of our ‘Kids and the Screen’ research, with over 70,000 viewing occasions, that kids consume content in a ritualistic manner across the day. We’ve identified peaks before the school day begins and after kids are back from school, with the pre-school audience viewing more consistently throughout the day.

Since lockdown began, we have been monitoring content consumption through the latest wave of ‘Kids and the Screen’ across April and May to see how this ritualistic behaviour has changed. What we see is that there is still very much a routine and a pattern that occurs, but that this has evolved to mirror the new day as we know it. Consequently, viewing is far more consistent across the day for kids aged 2-12, with time of day being impacted by different needs as we have all been at home.

In the early morning slot before 9am that was previously dominated by live TV and channels such as Milkshake; consumption has now shifted as kids are getting up later. The demand for online content in the morning has increased, with platforms such as YouTube providing educational and gaming content to keep kids occupied. For the rest of the day we really see subscription video on demand (SVOD) platforms dominate, as parents need to begin their own working day and therefore, they want a safe place with content that will engage their child for a long period of time. As we venture into the late afternoon and evening, we see family viewing becoming more frequent with families indulging far more in movie nights than they have done before.

New needs have come to the fore

Prior to lockdown the need for content that satisfied a learning objective along with being entertaining for the child was increasing. This has only further increased over the lockdown period with this type of content providing more guilt free screen time for parents and acting as a substitute for some home learning time with kids away from the classroom.

Another need which has been strengthened over the lockdown period is that of family time and the need for family entertainment. Across multiple recent studies that we have conducted, parents have indicated that one positive to come from these difficult times is that they have been able to reconnect as a family and have taken part in activities together. With cinemas closed, film nights have become the perfect way to spend time together. With families re-connecting and taking a step back from the ‘everyday’ many have realised just how important family time is and so we predict this will be a need which is likely to continue.

The continued climb of SVOD

SVOD viewing has gradually increased over the last 3 years, rivalling that of live TV viewing and this has only been exacerbated by the recent lockdown period.

As a result of these new needs we have seen some real winners in the kids and family content space. With Disney+ making a timely release as we entered lockdown it has given families exactly what they want at this time – new and fresh content that they can all watch together. Within our ‘Kids and the Screen’ research we can see that Disney+ satisfies a different need to the biggest player in the SVOD space for kids, Netflix. Whilst Netflix is often watched independently by children, with episodes of shows favourite content, Disney+ is watched by the whole family and primarily for films. Therefore, not only is Disney+ fulfilling the family need, but it is also doing this when other SVOD platforms aren’t, which is why its success is likely to continue moving forward.

Navigating back to the future

Where do we see things going as we emerge from lockdown?

The viewing ritual that we have seen consistently over the last 3 years is likely to return to where it was prior to lockdown, as we see children go back to school and parents returning to the office, if only for a couple of days a week.

The educational need has been increasing in popularity over the last year and is likely to continue Its success. We have seen Joe Wicks supplementing PE lessons during the lockdown period, and where lockdown specific content such as this is likely to decline, educational shows we see prior to lockdown will continue their rein. Currently, SVOD platforms such as Netflix and online platforms such as YouTube are working the hardest in this space for families when it comes to educational content that entertains.

SVOD will continue to be a favourite way to view for kids and families, with Disney+ satisfying this family entertainment need. Disney+ and Netflix can co-exist, complementing each other on content needs, however there is a question over whether households will eventually become overwhelmed by subscriptions and need to reduce household outgoings – in this instance only the strongest will survive!

It’s evident from our ‘Kids and the Screen’ research that there are viewing behaviours that represent a snapshot in time in response to these unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in and others which will be here to stay as we navigate back to the future. It’s important for brands to consider what’s going on right now and where this is heading particularly as we approach the fourth quarter and that media planning and messaging are informed rather than predicted to ensure greatest return.

1. Giraffe Insights: Kids and the Screen 2020

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