Reality rules Kid’s TV


The Block, The X Factor, The Voice and My Kitchen Rules are the most popular TV show with child audiences according to data released by media watchdog, ACMA.

A survey of viewing habits between 2001 – 2013 shows Reality TV is now the most popular genre with audiences aged 0 -14. They were especially popular with the 13–17 age group.

For children aged 5–12, movies made for family or general audiences were most popular on FTA television.

For children aged 0-4 there is also a trend towards UK titles over Australian shows, due largely to the amount of content screening on ABC2 and ABC3.

ABC is the most watched network amongst children, followed by Subscription TV (all channels grouped), Nine Network, Seven Network and Network TEN.

Highest viewing times for child audiences is between 5 – 9pm, with 7pm the peak time. A morning TV audience also watches between 7 -10am.

Top programs watched by children aged 0–14 on FTA television, 2013:
The Block Sky High—Grand Final
The X Factor Grand Final
The Voice—Wednesday
My Kitchen Rules—Winner Announced
Toy Story 3
Toy Story of Terror
Despicable Me
The Block: All Stars—Grand Final
Hamish & Andy’s Gap Year Asia
Domestic Blitz—The Block to the Rescue
The Lion King
Big Brother—Winner Announced
The Smurfs
Room on the Broom

Top children’s programs watched by children aged 0–14 on FTA television, 2013:
Room on the Broom (am)
Shaun the Sheep (am)
Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom (am)
Peppa Pig (pm)
How Many More Minutes Until Christmas? (am)
Octonauts Special: A Very Vegimals Christmas (pm)
Shaun the Sheep: Championsheeps (pm)
Peter Rabbit’s Christmas Tale (pm)
Octonauts (am)
The Pajanimals (ev)

Other key findings from the research, comprising community surveys and ratings analysis, include:

  • Preschool children, under five, spend more time watching free-to-air television than older children.
  • Programs made for children are most commonly watched by children four and under.
  • Nine in 10 children under 15 watch children’s programming on television.
  • Most children aged 5-12 watch programs on commercial television, comprising a mix of reality, light entertainment, movies and children’s programs.

Of the overall top-rating programs watched by children under five on free-to-air television, excluding sport, most were watched on dedicated ABC children’s channels.

Screen Producers Australia said in a statement: “It is critical that supporting structures – such as content regulation mandating the broadcast of children’s programs on commercial free-to-air channels and funding for children’s programming on the ABC – remain in place so that Australian broadcasters continue to meet the expectations of Australian children and parents that there will be quality, age appropriate content on our television channels.”

You can download ACMA’s comprehensive Children’s Television Viewing Research here.


  1. The first sentence of this article makes for depressing reading. When I grew up kids had a huge choice of programmes that were funny, educational (or funny and educational!), informative, engaging, adventurous, scarey, silly even … you name it! We had shows that fired our imaginations and inspired us. I despair for current generations because it is impossible to see how divisive and exploitative shows like The Block, X Factor, The Voice and My Kitchen Rules (and their sponsors) can be anything but harmful to young minds and bodies.

  2. All valid points and andrewg76 is right – there isn’t much choice. Having said that I remember reading a TV Tonight reader mentioned she loved watching IACGMOOH with her kids but had to pull the pin cos it finished too late. So commercial networks aren’t really thinking about 5 – 12 year olds at all!
    David I’ve been meaning to ask for ages and this article is timely. Why don’t 7, 9 & 10 show children’s shows at 4 anymore? We used to have only a few short years ago Totally Wild, H2O Just Add Water, Lockie Leonard, game shows etc. why don’t these networks have to show children’s shows anymore. It’s news & cooking shows. Is everything now on their secondary stations. I don’t see this as right somehow. Is this how they get away with meeting content allocations? I actually saw Lockie Leonard repeats on ABC3 last week! ABC3 must be where all the kids go now…

  3. “ABC is the most watched network amongst children, followed by Subscription TV (all channels grouped), Nine Network, Seven Network and Network TEN.”

    Have to admit I was surprised at Ten’s low standing behind Nine and Seven, given it’s commitment to ‘children’s television’ through shows like Toasted TV and Totally Wild etc. in the mornings. I guess the ratings woes of the last few years have gone right through all of Ten’s audience, not to mention the reality juggernauts on Seven and Nine also being popular with the younger demographics.

  4. “A survey of viewing habits between 2001 – 2013 shows Reality TV is now the most popular genre with audiences aged 0 -14. ”

    This statement is because thats the only Genre thats screened between 7:30 and 9:00 on FTA and it is when most of them go to bed. There is no choice of any other genre….

  5. Just another sign of how flawed and completely useless the ratings system is. The Top children’s programs are all pre-school series, and the most popular is a TV special. I know the ABC2 is often used as a baby sitter, but not a single series for school age children is even mentioned in that list.

    Also they never consider how many have given up on TV, there is still barely any new content for children on (free to air) TV. I expect most children would be using the internet, to get access to recent series and more variety. Or passing the time with other interesting activities (i.e. video games).

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