The publicly-funded BBC’s forays into digital broadcasting for kids is eroding the audiences of commercial rivals, according to new figures from BARB (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board).

The new channels were launched in February with a £3 million campaign ($4.7m; €4.7m), though the BBC claimed at the time they would expand the market for children’s channels rather than poach viewers from existing stations.

Cbeebies, which caters for pre-school children, has already become the fifth most watched kids’channel in homes subscribing to the SkyDigital dTV platform. Its share of all multi-channel viewing is 3%, ahead of commercial rivals Nickelodeon (2.2%), Boomerang (1.8%) and Cartoon Network (1.6%).

The CBBC channel, for six to 13-year-olds, uses interactive and online platforms to create a children's community of viewers across the UK.

Following the launch of the BBC’s channels, ad-funded stations have seen their aggregated share of all commercial impacts in this sector decline from 95% to 65%, according to agency estimates.

However, Nickelodeon remains upbeat: “Across the four to 15-year-old and housewives with kids markets, our share is higher than Cbeebies. We’re not suffering as much as we thought we would.”

Data sourced from: Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff