Television scores on pester power: Children make largest audience group

Despite the proliferation of screens and rising power of digital media, television holds its own among children, considered to be among the most impressionable viewer segments. According to a report by BARC India, children between two and 14 years account for 20 per cent of total TV impressions which is the highest share of viewership across all ages. Will this cause advertisers to change the way they view the medium and the category? Not really, say most because the report largely corroborates their understanding of viewership patterns in the country. However brands will benefit from the nuanced view of what, when and how children watch TV.

Apart from the fact that children make up the largest slice of the viewership pie, there are interesting behavorial patterns that they demonstrate.  For one, more children watch non-kids’ channels more often than kids’ channels. With general fare drawing 87 per cent of children’s viewership share, the report said that this could indicate a high degree of co-viewing in Indian families. “Within the non-kids’ channels, general entertainment and movie channels command the maximum eyeballs,” the report said. 

Jigar Rambhia, national director, ESP (a part of GroupM) said, “While advertisers know that a majority of kids viewership comes from non-kids’ channels, for advertisers targeting children specifically, kids’ channels are the first choice. They do advertise on GECs and movie channels, but as a secondary platform.”

For all children, content stickiness is best on kids’ channels, but the viewership of girls on these channels is nearly half that of boys. While the average time spent is close to 25 minutes for both males and females, the viewership for males is almost 50 per cent more than that of females. One reason for this could be that the content mix on kids channels may be skewed more towards male viewers than female, the report suggested. 

Among children, the report showed that boys prefer movies and sports and girls go for GEC and music. “This could suggest that kids demonstrate gender behaviour similar to adults from an early age, and these are reflected in their TV viewing habits as well,” the report said. 

Rambhia says that while the gender breakdown is an interesting guide to planning campaigns, advertisers must also look at timing. “There are distinct times during the day when children are active viewers. But after say 6 p.m., the viewership and involvement of kids dips significantly. They are mostly co-viewing with little or no control over the remote,” he said. Hence children’s brands would  benefit by reaching out to children early on in the day.

The top three channel genres that engage children the most are the same for boys and girls: Kids, GEC and movies. But while boys spend more time on sport and infotainment, girls see more of devotional, music, youth and lifestyle. In case of programme themes, animation/cartoons top the list on kids’ channels (89 per cent share of impressions), but on non-kids’ channels film-based content is most popular (40 per cent share of impressions) followed closed by serials (39 per cent share of impressions). 

When it comes to ‘watchability’ (measured as the ratio between impressions and time spent) film-based content leads the charts. “The popularity of programme themes is also subject to its availability, we see that serial content on kids’ channels does not translate to very high impressions. But on non-kids’ channels, serials deliver the best impression/duration ratio,” the report added. 

Children prefer Hindi and English language content over other regional languages. When kids consume content exclusively on kids’ channels, the propensity to consume English language content is much higher. Thus children are more comfortable with watching shows in English than their adult counterparts.

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