Kids pre­fer TV for view­ing, love other de­vices too

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - BY FRA­ZIER MOORE

NEW YORK | Grace El­lis has never known a time when you needed a TV to watch TV.

The North At­tle­boro, Mas­sachusetts, fifth­grader watches shows like “Liv and Mad­die,” “Jessie” and “The Lodge” on her lap­top, iPad and phone.

“Some­times I watch TV in the car,” she says. “I have ballet ev­ery day, so I watch on the way.”

She has a TV in her bed­room that isn’t hooked up to ca­ble, but is per­fect for watch­ing DVDs.

And the fam­ily’s flat-screen has ad­van­tages of its own.

“It’s much big­ger,” Grace explains, “and on the couch, it’s com­fier.”

Ever since freckle-faced pup­pet Howdy Doody ush­ered in chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion nearly 70 years ago, each new gen­er­a­tion of view­ers has been treated to a grow­ing bounty of pro­grams on a mush­room­ing se­lec­tion of gad­getry.

But noth­ing com­pares to the cur­rent wave: “The gen­er­a­tion com­ing up now is used to hav­ing ev­ery­thing at their fin­ger­tips,” says Stacey Lynn Schul­man, an an­a­lyst at the Katz Me­dia Group.

Why not? From birth, theirs has been a world of video dig­i­tally is­su­ing from ev­ery screen. And for them, any of those screens is just an­other screen, whether or not you call it “TV.”

“When they love a [show], they love it in ev­ery form and on ev­ery plat­form,” says Nick­elodeon Pres­i­dent Cyma Zarghami.

This keeps the bosses at each kids’ net­work scram­bling to make sure that wher­ever chil­dren turn their eyes, that net­work’s pro­gram­ing will be there.

Even so, it may be sur­pris­ing that chil­dren none­the­less watch most tele­vi­sion on, well, a tele­vi­sion. As in: old-fash­ioned lin­ear, whileit’s-ac­tu­ally-air­ing tele­casts.

A new Nielsen study finds that in the fourth quar­ter of 2016, view­ers aged 2-11 av­er­aged about 17 hours of live (not time-shifted) TV each week. Granted, that’s a drop of about 90 min­utes weekly from the year be­fore. But by com­par­i­son, kids in fourth quar­ter 2016 spent about 4 1/2 hours weekly watch­ing video con­tent on other de­vices.

“Lin­ear TV is still the lion’s share of where kids’ time is spent,” says Jane Gould, se­nior vice pres­i­dent for con­sumer in­sights for Dis­ney Chan­nel. “But it’s im­por­tant for us to be in all the OTHER places where they are, as well.”

One rea­son: Those other out­lets can pave the way for a new pro­gram’s ar­rival on lin­ear TV.

Ms. Gould points to “Andi Mack,” an am­bi­tious young-adult com­edy-drama that de­buted on Dis­ney Chan­nel on April 7. Weeks be­fore it landed there, the se­ries could be sam­pled on dig­i­tal plat­forms in­clud­ing the Dis­ney Chan­nel app, Dis­ney.com, Dis­ney Chan­nel YouTube, iTunes, Ama­zon and Google Play.

Count Grace El­lis among the le­gions of kids whose at­ten­tion was snagged by this mega-buildup. When “Andi Mack” pre­miered, Grace was one of the 9 mil­lion TV view­ers who tuned in.

When “Se­same Street” pre­miered on PBS back in 1969, it joined a bare hand­ful of TV shows (chief among them “Cap­tain Kan­ga­roo” and “Mr. Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood”) de­voted to up­lift­ing their young au­di­ence.

Nearly a half-cen­tury later, “Se­same Street” is go­ing strong.

“PBS is still at its core,” says Se­same Work­shop COO Steve Young­wood. So is TV over­all, as demon­strated by the se­ries ex­pand­ing to HBO a year ago. TV cur­rently ac­counts for 40 per­cent of its view­er­ship.

But “Se­same Street” has never stopped adapt­ing to an evolv­ing me­dia land­scape that today finds 18 per­cent of its au­di­ence view­ing on tablets, 14 per­cent on mo­bile phones and 25 per­cent on other stream­ing de­vices and com­put­ers.

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