With So Many Ways to Watch TV Content, Kids Choose Whatever Is Easiest

Kids are drawn to devices and sources that they can navigate independently, according to a new Nickelodeon Kids and Family GPS project.

From TV sets to tablets, there are more options than ever for kids to view TV and video content. So when children around the world sit down to watch something, how do they choose which devices and sources to use?

To answer this question, Nickelodeon Kids and Family GPS recently launched Connected Kids, a study based on an online survey of parents with their kids ages 4 to 11 in  10 countries*. Here are key findings from this project:

Watching TV and video content is REALLY important to kids.

At 72%, TV viewing is their #1 entertainment activity—ahead of playing indoors (57%) and outdoors (42%), drawing (38%), and video games (38%). It’s something they spend a lot of time with, with just over half (51%) viewing for at least 2 hours a day and 9% for at least 5 hours a day.

While virtually all kids consume TV/video content at home (94%), some view in other places like the car (26%) and waiting rooms (16%).

When deciding what and how to watch, ease of use is essential for kids.

TV Sets and Linear TV

Among devices, kids still perceive TV sets as easiest to use (64%). This could be why TVs are still the device they are most likely to “always watch” (67%) and most likely to choose when they know what they want to watch (73%).

Linear TV also continues to dominate (92% of kids are using) because they know how to use it on their own. It’s the source kids use on a daily basis (63% say they always watch linear TV) and their first choice when they want to watch TV and video content (44%).

Free Video on Demand (YouTube)

Most kids (83%) use free video on demand, but it’s less primary than linear TV (44% of kids use free video on demand sometimes, 39% always).

Free video on demand (YouTube) is kids’ second choice (after linear TV) for watching TV and video content, driven by the fact that it’s the most user-friendly source for kids (73%). This could be why kids choose it as their favorite source (78%). Flexibility is also an important attribute—52% say they can easily choose when they want to watch on free video on demand.

Kids primarily watch free video on demand on their tablets. And while they use them to watch some TV content, the most popular genres are fun online videos, music videos and tutorials.

TV channel websites, VOD and subscription VOD are harder for kids to navigate on their own.

Kids watch TV channel websites (58%), VOD from cable supplier (46%) and subscription VOD (like Netflix, 46%), but they’re more difficult to use independently. Improving navigation and ease of use is vital for on demand providers to become a destination for kids.

TV sets are for viewing with others—and kids watch more “shareable” shows on linear TV.

Most kids share their TV sets with family, with just 31% owning their own. Because they are more communal devices, viewing on TV sets is also more communal. This type of viewing is generally with family (43% with parents, 39% with siblings).

The genres they tend to watch on linear TV are live action shows, sports, reality shows and cartoons.

Kids use tablets for solo viewing and when they want to see something that’s not on TV.

Kids are more likely to own a tablet than any other device (52%). Tablets (tied with laptops) are what kids use when they want to watch something they can’t get on TV.

When viewing alone, kids turn to mobile devices: tablets and smartphones.

Kids—especially younger ones—love watching repeats of favorite shows.

Virtually all (92%) of 4- to 6-year-olds watch favorite episodes no matter how many times they’ve seen them. And while most 7- to 11-year-olds (79%) are also inclined to watch repeats, they are more likely than younger kids to make every effort to keep up with new episodes of favorite shows (21%).

* Countries: Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Malaysia, Italy, Germany, UK, Philippines, Netherlands, France