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Study notes: What UK kids are watching

New data from Childwise shows that Sky Sports was the most-watched channel among seven- to 16-year-olds in the UK last year, followed by four other non-kidsnets.
February 16, 2022

This week, Kidscreen is digging into the annual “2022 Childwise Monitor Report,” which tracks media habits, usage and attitudes among kids in the UK. We’ll be exploring some key findings that indicate what kinds of content young viewers may be looking for in the year ahead. First up is a deep-dive into what kids are currently watching. 

The majority of linear kidsnets in the UK experienced declines in viewership last year as they competed with generalist channels and streaming platforms, according to Childwise’s 2022 report, which was based on a survey of nearly 3,000 five- to 16-year-olds conducted in the UK between September and November 2021.

Sky Sports (pictured) was the most-watched channel among survey respondents ages seven to 16, with 28% of them tuning in during the survey timeframe—after dropping 5% to 27% the previous year. Generalist channels ITV (25%), BBC One (23%), Channel 4 (22%) and ITV2 (18%) rounded out the top five, but their results were down by 12%, 6%, 1% and 2%, respectively.

BBC kidcaster CBBC held steady in sixth place with 13% of kids surveyed tuning in, after falling by 4% last year. Next up were Nickelodeon at 11% (down 17%), Cartoon Network at 11% (down 2%), CITV at 7% (down 3%), POP at 7% (down 3%), Boomerang at 7% (down 3%), POP Max at 3% (down 5%), Nick Jr. at 3% (down 1%) and Nicktoons at 2% (down 4%).

In total, only a third of the respondents (34%) reported watching a kids channel during the survey timeframe, a big drop from 49% in 2020. However, the regional closures of Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD in October 2020 amidst a strategic pivot at the House of Mouse to focus on Disney+ were partly responsible for this decline. If Disney+ had been included in the survey as a children’s channel, and not as an on-demand service, 43% of children would have reported watching a kidsnet.

In the on-demand space, YouTube (unchanged at 84%), Netflix (down 4% to 75%), Amazon Prime (up 2% to 28%), BBC iPlayer (down 4% to 26%) were the dominant platforms of choice.

When asked to name their favorite shows, survey respondents singled out YouTube, Netflix, Pokémon, Friends and SpongeBob SquarePants—and it’s interesting that platforms cropped up in response to this very content-focused question.

From a demographic perspective, five to 10s mentioned YouTube more than anything else, but Pokémon (3%), Mr. Bean (2%) and SpongeBob SquarePants (2%) were some of their fave shows.

YouTube and Netflix were the top responses from eight to 12s as well, but they also singled out Friends and SpongeBob SquarePants.

And for 13 to 16s, dramas and sitcoms such as Squidgame, Sex Education, The Big Bang Theory, Rick and Morty and Friends made the list, but Netflix and YouTube won by a landslide.

About The Author
Jeremy is the Features Editor of Kidscreen specializing in the content production, broadcasting and distribution aspects of the global children's entertainment industry. Contact Jeremy at jdickson@brunico.com.

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