Before finalizing its content plans for The Electric Company revamp hitting TV and computer screens next January, Sesame Workshop took an up-close look at the media usage patterns of the project’s six- to nine-year-old target.
Two studies completed at the end of last year (one surveying more than 1,200 parents of US kids in this age range and another based on 300 interviews with kids themselves) revealed some surprising insights into where this group is spending its free time.
The studies indicated that while most six to nines have ready access to the internet, with more than 50% of kids in even the poorest households having a connection at home, they weren’t spending as much time online as previously thought, says Jennifer Kotler, assistant VP of domestic research at Sesame. In fact, watching TV and reading still dominate their time on weekdays, with a full 52% of kids not using the internet at all during the week, and a scant 11% spending just 30 minutes to an hour a day online. In contrast, 54% spent between 30 minutes and two hours watching TV per day.
Additionally, notes Kotler, with the kids that do spend time online, the majority are playing games (78% play once a week or more) on TV-driven sites such as Disney.com, Cartoonnetwork.com and Nick.com. What kids this age aren’t doing online is watching videos on YouTube or flocking to the likes of Club Penguin – just 10% of the kids in the second study said they visited this online community, with only 3% hitting Webkinz.com. The conclusion Sesame reached, says Kotler, is that TV is ‘still king with this age group.’
The findings, in fact, made Sesame rethink the direction of its new Electric Company. ‘Initially, we thought it was going to be more internet-based,’ says Kotler. While there will still be a website featuring games, the TV component has now taken precedence.