Commercial Free to Air bosses recently complained that Kids were no longer watching Children’s Television on their networks, but research released by ACMA this week found kids are still watching programming made for them.
The top shows for Kids in 2016 may have indeed been reality shows MasterChef, The Voice, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, The Block and My Kitchen Rules -but dedicated children’s programming still made up more than half of the top 30 programs watched by children aged 0–14, compared to one third in 2005.
Total time spent viewing FTA declined over the past 12 years (30 minutes less viewing in 2016 compared with 2005 for children 0–14 years old), although Subscription Television maintained its audience viewership among young audiences between 2005 and 2013.
Programming made specifically for children forms a large part of their content viewing, with 64% of the total average viewing time spent watching children’s TV programs, movies, videos or DVDs —an average 6.7 of hours per week is spent viewing children’s programs from an average total of 10.6 hours viewing per week for any screen content.
The data comes at a time when industry groups have rallied against Seven, Nine and TEN’s push to drop quotas for Australian Children’s TV. Screen Producers Australia, Australian Writers Guild, Australian Directors Guild, Media Arts & Entertainment Alliance and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation have all rejected the proposal.
Yet since the introduction of multichannels between 2005 and 2013, there has been a shift in children’s destination viewing. The commercial networks attracted more children aged 13–17, albeit for programming of a broader family appeal.
Quota-required C and P classified programs for commercial broadcasters are now all shown on the networks’ multichannels (7TWO, 9GO! and Eleven). The analysis shows that there are now fewer viewers for these programs, but with a higher percentage of the programs’ audience aged between 0–14, indicating that the children who are watching these programs are increasingly doing so on their own.
The way children watch television and other screen content is also changing, with use of multiple devices and platforms becoming the norm. On average, a child uses 3.2 devices and 2.9 different platforms to watch children’s programs.
While the TV set is the most frequently used device to view children’s programs, online services make up three of the four top platforms most frequently used among children aged 0–14. Daily use is most frequent for free video-on-demand (VOD) content through YouTube (27 per cent), with subscription services, such as Netflix, and free-to-air TV catch-up services, such as iView, used daily by 14% and 11% of children respectively. Live broadcast TV is the second most frequent platform used daily at 19%.
Multi-tasking is also a feature of children’s viewing practices, with 55% of children doing other activities on another device while watching children’s programs. Multi-tasking increases with age, with nearly three quarters of 10–14 year-olds doing other activities on another device while watching children’s programs.
A total of n=1,463 Australian parents, carers and guardians aged 18 years and older with at least one child aged 14 years and under were surveyed online between 27 March and 4 April 2017.