For today’s modern family, the breadth of content, services and devices available means that family room viewing can often be splintered, with parents and kids watching different screens and TV shows. But a trend bubbling up in the kids digital space suggests a new shared viewing experience is gaining in popularity.
A recent report from UK-based kids advertising platform SuperAwesome found that family-operated/focused YouTube channels are attracting views at a rapid rate.
These channels, which feature daily slice-of-life videos like the children’s extra-curriculars or favorite snacks, are a marked departure from the first-person format of popular gamer or personality-based YouTubers like Stampylonghead and Zoella.
For the report’s creators, the Insights team at SuperAwesome, this trend is one to keep an eye on. While it’s no secret that kids are enamored with YouTube, especially in the entertainment space, what’s really eye-catching is the way the video-sharing platform can transform from being something kids use on their own time to something that bonds families together.
“YouTube is all about following and sharing,” notes Sam Clough, SuperAwesome’s director of insights. “But what has happened to date is that children are viewing it generally on a tablet, on their own or maybe with a sibling looking over their shoulder. Now we’re seeing an actual willingness to bring the family together and share that experience, a lot more than other YouTube content. It’s bringing YouTube back into the family space.”
Super Awesome insights manager Milo Warby agrees that the rise of these family YouTubers is unique, especially in terms of what it means for family viewing.
“The more you see the living room on YouTube, the more YouTube is actually appropriate for the living room, for shared viewing,” adds Warby. “The most-viewed videos are always ones where someone has thrown a [tantrum] or broken a tooth or something like that—real world issues that parents can relate to.”
That ability to relate is key for why parents and kids choose to view these videos, according to SuperAwesome’s OnTrack Media report. Also important, the clips are often steeped in authenticity and humor.
“Children really relate to YouTubers because they feel like the boy next door or the slightly more aspirational gamer who knows a little bit more than they do,” describes Clough. “It’s the same to a certain degree with these families.”
“It’s also interesting that the humor in a lot of these videos works on totally different levels,” adds Warby. “So if there’s a parent and a child watching, the parent is laughing at the situation in the video the parent is going through, while the child may be relating to the child. It’s interesting that unlike your standard YouTube personality video, where it’s straight face to camera and you get the joke or not, it’s much more inclusive.”
Notably, the Insights team likens the YouTuber families to popular family sitcoms, like TV classic The Brady Bunch, which drew families in for a daily shared viewing experience.
“There is this appointment to view coming through,” explains Clough. “For example, one of the YouTube families broadcasts a new episode every night at six o’clock. Families are being drawn into this regular viewing experience again.”
They also draw similarities with newer shows like Modern Family and Outnumbered (a UK-based show with a similar format to Modern Family), which hold cross-generational appeal and a more unscripted feel.
“These channels all seem to be about a combination of relatability with humor,” notes Warby. “They’ve got all the ingredients of a really popular sitcom but on an online platform. The reason we’re talking about Outnumbered and Modern Family, some of it is slightly unscripted and the whole YouTube thing is real life as it happens—they do edit, but it has that real-life feel.”
And while YouTubers families like the Bratayleys, SacconeJolys and Shaytards have been around for some time, steadily accumulating followers, Warby and Clough are optimistic that this category of YouTubers is poised to grow.
“It’s just going to get bigger,” notes Warby. “We’re already seeing gamer family YouTube channels becoming quite popular. We might go to a situation where we’ve got funny sitcom-style families to one where families may sit down and watch other families playing games and actually make purchasing decisions based on those videos.”
What’s more, as more YouTuber families emerge, the channels will become more distinguished, contends Warby: “I think increasingly we are going to see families identify themselves as a sing-a-long or a gaming family or a sports family or something like that, because they’ll need more than slight unique twists to make them stand out from the crowd.”