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TV tops kids' media habits

News, 13 August 2015

NEW YORK: US children spend more time watching TV than playing video games or streaming short-form videos new research has shown.

A study from consulting firm PwC, part of its Consumer Intelligence Series, surveyed more than 500 children aged eight to 18 and found that, on average, they spent 15.5 hours a week consuming media content.

Typically, they spent between seven and eight hours on watching network television (7.0 hours), playing video games on a console (7.5), viewing videos on YouTube (7.2) and watching cable channels (7.8).

Eight in ten (79%) said that watching network TV shows was what they did most often, ahead of watching movies (69%) and watching drama or reality series on cable channels (68%) or any other cable content (68%).

But PwC observed that both kids and teens appeared to significantly underestimate their hours of weekly media engagement in absolute terms or overestimate their time spent on specific content genres.

Among all age divisions more than half preferred to watch streamed content, usually on a TV set or a laptop – "contrary to the widely held perception that kids spend the bulk of their time consuming content on mobile devices" the study noted.

It is only as they grow older that they start to shift their viewing onto smartphones, but the importance of on-demand viewing is clear.

In terms of finding new content, advertising is crucial. One third of kids and teens learned about new programming through commercials, well ahead of the 23% who were given word-of-mouth recommendations and the 18% who received recommendations via social media.

For advertisers generally, however, the picture is mixed.

"While it's a shrinking part of the pie, kids are also still watching a lot of TV," said Christopher Vollmer, principal, media & entertainment, PwC's Strategy&.

At the same time, he added, "kids are spending a greater share of their video consumption on subscription streaming services that are ad-free".

Data sourced from PwC, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff