Industry Voices—Dixon: 9 in 10 kids watch free ad-supported streaming TV, heavily influence family spending

Colin Dixon Industry Voices

Think kids are mostly streaming ad-free video? New survey data shows that parents view ad-supported services as a critical resource for their children. What's more, the ads the kids see have a direct route to influencing the parents' purchase decisions.

According to a new free report from nScreenMedia, nine out of 10 parents say free ad-supported video is somewhat or very important to them. The same number say they allow their children to watch with ads. What is more, three out of five say they can watch alone, rather than just with a parent present.

The most popular free ad-supported services

As you might expect, YouTube tops the list of free ad-supported services that kids use. 70% of parents say their kids use it. YouTube Kids, which was introduced in 2015 as an app and later as a website, is almost as popular, with 65% of parents saying their kids use it.

Make no mistake; YouTube takes its child audience very seriously. Parents' enormous acceptance of YouTube as a resource for their kids is illustrated by how dominant kids' channels are on the service. Of the top 15 channels in the second week of March 2020, 12 provide kid-oriented content. Services like CocoMelon – Nursery Rhymes, Kids Diana Show, and Vlad and Nikita drive hundreds of millions of views each week.

Other free ad-supported services like Pluto TV and Tubi are also doing well with families. 24% of parents say their kids watch videos on Tubi, and 22% use Pluto TV. Moreover, new ad-supported options like Peacock are arriving, with plenty of children's content and dedicated kid interfaces.

Advertising to children works

Catering to kids is a priority for ad-supported streaming services. However, it is one thing for children to be exposed to ads during their streaming sessions, but advertisers want to know if they are paying attention. According to the 3,000 parents in the nScreenMedia survey, ads effectively engage a child's attention.

We asked the parents who allow their children to watch ad-supported content how the kids react when the ads come on. Half say their children have the same level of attention or higher as with the show they are watching. Only 13% say their children did not pay any attention.

Kids heavily influence parent spending

Advertising to children has a big payoff. Kids are tremendously influential in what their parents buy. We asked parents how often their child's preferences led them to buy or research a product in the previous three to six months. Two-thirds say these kid-influenced actions occurred fairly often, regularly, or very often.

What is more, kids influence purchases in a broad range of product categories. We might expect much influence over non-video family entertainment (park visits, game night, for example) and food delivery (kids love pizza!) But the majority of parents report influence over technology and hygiene purchases, too.

More details of children's use of ad-supported streaming services can be found in the free report Making Screen Time Family Time. The report also discusses topics including content preferences, device usage, co-viewing activity, and a special section comparing the parenting styles of men and women.

Mr. Dixon is the author of many reports and opinion pieces. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in electrical engineering and has post-graduate business education experience from Stanford.

Mr. Dixon is a frequent speaker and moderator at many industry events such as NAB, CES, TV Connect, IBC and BroadbandTVcon. Mr. Dixon was also nominated one of IPTV’s Top 50 People by IPTV Evangelist.

Industry Voices are opinion columns written by outside contributors—often industry experts or analysts—who are invited to the conversation by FierceVideo staff. They do not represent the opinions of FierceVideo.