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How Streaming is Changing Kids’ TV

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

As Millennial parents raise the next binge-viewing generation and OTT services increasingly target children, kids’ TV is getting a streaming shakeup…

The Binge Effect is real. According to our research, 95% of 13-33-year-olds binge watch, and 54% are binge watching multiple times each month. They’re devoting an immense amount of time to consuming entertainment in single sittings, and their television preferences have been altered drastically. In a relatively short amount of time, Netflix has turned itself into a must-have for TV viewers. Hub Entertainment Research recently asked U.S. consumers what TV sources they would keep if they could only have three, and found that 36% chose Netflix, followed by ABC at 20%, and then CBS at 18%. For 16-24-year-olds, Netflix is “even more indispensable,” with 56% choosing the streaming service as one of their three—almost three times more than their second choice, ABC at 19%. Our Binge Effect trend found that 64% of 13-33-year-olds are using Netflix the most for binge-watching content.

When we asked young consumers the entertainment they most enjoy, online streaming services were the number one for 18-33-year-olds and second for 13-17-year-olds. Millennials and Gen Z are hooked on streaming—and now it’s changing the way that entertainment is being created for the next generation. We’ve said before that Millennial parents are training the next generation of streaming viewers: When we asked, a whopping 75% of Millennial parents agreed “My child watches more content on streaming services than cable.” It’s no wonder that OTT services have been stepping up their children’s series efforts. We’re seeing a direct streaming impact on the way kids today watch TV, and the kind of content that’s being created for them. Here are three ways that streaming is changing kids’ TV:

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing1. They Don’t Know What Commercials Are

Netflix has gone from producing 100 hours of original TV shows and movies in 2013 to almost 600 hours in 2016, with the kids’ category as a major contributor. Many streaming players like Amazon, Hulu, and HBO have also focused in on children’s programming, which means that thousands of hours of ad-free kids’ content are being created—and the next generation is increasingly watching TV without actually knowing what a commercial break is. In fact, Exstreamist recently surveyed 100 parents and found 82% in Netflix-only homes say their kids (under 10-years-old) don’t know what a commercial is, compared to 38% in homes with regular TV. One respondent commented, “Our two young daughters have probably seen fewer than 10 commercials in their lives, we pretty much only stream kids shows on Netflix and Hulu,” while another said, “I think my kids like the ads, which I know sounds terrible, but they love watching toy commercials on YouTube on the iPad, go figure.” According to one study, kids who stream content are missing out on 150 hours of ads a year: two-18-years-old are streaming 650 hours worth of content a year on average, cutting out 6.25 days of commercials from their viewing yearly. In our Binge Effect trend we found that 71% of 13-17-year-olds say they’re binge watching monthly, and the lack of ads from services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu can be a selling point for parents who want keep their children from being “molded by” ads.

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing2. The Stories Are Changing

Binge-worthy TV is not just for adults anymore. The Binge Effect has helped spur serialized storytelling in entertainment, and Kidscreen reports it’s becoming the norm in kids’ entertainment where producers are working on “tell[ing] deeper, longer, more engaging and immersive stories” to keep children watching. Preschool programming is the “next frontier for serialization,” as evidenced by the show Topsy and Tim which incorporates short and long story arcs through seasons. The series has generated more than 100 million views on BBC’s iPlayer. That’s not the only way that the stories being told in kids’ entertainment are being altered by streaming. Being able to choose content and have control over what to watch next is opening the doors to completely new kinds of series. Netflix is reportedly launching a “choose your own adventure” children’s series that allows viewers to control the fate of the characters by choosing which plot line to follow. The site hopes to eventually expand the format to adult-oriented shows. The “new customized à la carte” format will not only give viewers more control, but add a “completely new level of engagement” with many more viewing hours of alternate storylines.

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing3. They’re Watching “Other Generations’” Shows

While some wonder if TV reboots are “alienating the YouTube generation,” our Binge Effect trend shows that might not be the case: 71% of 13-17-year-olds have binge watched a show that has not been on TV for several years, with 51% of 13-17-year-olds saying that they are binge watching shows that are no longer on TV that they never had the chance to watch. In other words, binging off-air shows is also incredibly popular with young consumers. Binge viewing is helping to give defunct shows new life with a new generation of fans, and the next generation is growing up watching TV shows that “belonged” to other generations. When we asked 13-17-year-olds what old shows they were binging, Friends, The Office, and Full House were their top responses. We have no doubt that Millennial parents are also having their kids watch some of the same TV shows they grew up with, and now streaming services are being created dedicated to that purpose: Time Warner’s upcoming Boomerang will house 5,000 “titles” and feature old and new episodes of classic Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera, and MGM animation cartoons, as well as a new “comedic fantasy” series Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz.


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