Press release:

On-demand boom sees kids spend one week watching TV this summer

  • UK children will spend more than six days watching television this summer[1]
  • Over three quarters (76%) of children will watch on-demand TV this summer, while seven in ten (71%) will use tablets to watch TV – just behind watching it live (91%)[2]
  • Kids call the shots – the availability of children’s TV channels is the most important factor (37%) for parents when picking television services[3]
  • Peppa Pig (40%) and Horrid Henry (19%) are the top shows for kids aged 6 or under[4], while 7-11 year olds prefer Scooby Doo (28%) or Horrible Histories (28%)[5]
  • Eight in ten (79%) parents would consider imposing a screen ban for their kids during the holidays[6].

On-demand TV has seemingly come to the rescue of parents concerned about keeping their children occupied over the summer months. Kids are set to spend six days watching television this holiday[1] – three quarters (76%) will use on-demand services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, to do so[2].

According to research from price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com, children will watch 40% of television this summer on-demand[1]. While a large proportion (91%) will also watch live broadcasts on TV, not-on-the-box viewing has also gathered in popularity with 71% using tablets, half (48%) viewing through laptops or PCs and 47% catching shows on smartphones[2].

The research also found that the youngest members of the family call the shots when deciding which TV packages are subscribed to. The top deciding factor for parents choosing TV services for their family is the availability of children’s channels (37%), over availability of entertainment channels (27%) and sports channels (15%)[3].

When asked about their child’s three favourite TV shows, Peppa Pig (40%) and Horrid Henry (19%) topped the list, while Alvin and the Chipmunks (16%), Fireman Sam (15%) and In The Night Garden (14%) also made the top five[4]. Those aged 7-11 tended to prefer Horrible Histories (28%) and Scooby Doo (28%), although Spongebob Squarepants (20%) and Tom and Jerry (20%) were also named as favourites[5].

More than half (52%) of parents believe that trips to the park are one of the top three ways to keep their brood entertained over the summer, although other high-ranking activities included playing in the garden (49%) and day trips to the seaside (29%), rather than watching TV (14%)[7].

Perhaps unsurprisingly, parents think their children would much rather play computer games (19%), watch TV (18%) and use iPads or tablets (18%) over more ‘traditional’ activities such as drawing and painting (16%), attending activity clubs (14%) and reading (12%)[8].

That’s not to say the kids have free-reign: eight in ten (79%) parents would consider imposing a screen-ban for their little ones during the summer holidays while more than three quarters (76%) would consider limiting TV viewing time. Meanwhile 70% would consider limiting access to games consoles, more than two thirds of parents (69%) would think about limiting mobile phone use and 68% would consider reducing PC or laptop screen time[6].

Of those who would considering limiting screen time, the average limit parents are contemplating is two hours and 12 minutes, with a third (60%) of parents stating they’d look to limit their child’s screen time to between two and five hours. Around a third (36%) of parents were stricter, explaining that they would limit this to just one hour[9].

Ewan Taylor-Gibson, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, comments: “While the postcard image of the summer holidays might conjure up seaside trips and summer camps, the reality is that parents are often restricted by expense and time when it comes to organising their children’s activities during the year’s longest break from school.

“TV channels and services across the board have come to the rescue of concerned parents who want mental and physical stimuli for their children this summer, but don’t necessarily have the time to be constantly curating activities. The BBC, for example, has recently announced a big investment in its programming for children, while the launch of ‘choose-your-adventure’ TV show Buddy Thunderstruck on Netflix is a first for the on-demand sector.

“The enduring popularity of shows like Horrible Histories and Dora the Explorer, for younger children, proves that there is a growing call for educational television that isn’t as dry as toast. As on-demand services increasingly move into the children’s TV space, there is more room for innovators to create programmes that effectively blur the lines between fun and learning – helping to quash the tired old notion that watching television is just a spectator sport.

“With TV service providers kicking off their kids’ TV campaigns in time for the school holidays, it’s worth looking around and weighing up your options. Look for content you know they love, and consider multi-screen access. Some services limit the number of devices you can simultaneously stream on – so make sure your package fits your family. It’s also wise to go with a service that offers a parental lock giving them freedom and you peace of mind.”

Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.

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Notes to editors

uSwitch.com surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,010 UK parents with children under the age of 11. Data was collected from 16 to 19 May 2017.

  1. Respondents were asked: ‘How many hours does your child spend watching TV (on a TV, laptop or tablet etc) on average, each day? Please specify if they are watching live TV or on demand TV’ – the mean response for live TV was 1.8 hours and the mean response for on demand TV was 1.2 hours, so the overall mean response for all TV was 3 hours. The summer holidays are typically seven weeks, or 49 days, long. 49 x 3 hours of TV = 147 hours, or 6.125 days of TV
  2. Respondents were asked: ‘Do(es) your child(ren) use any of the following devices to watch TV?’ – 91% selected TV (live), 76% selected TV (on demand), 71% selected tablets (e.g. iPad), 48% selected PC/laptop and 47% selected mobile phone
  3. Respondents were asked: ‘What are the biggest deciding factors for you when choosing TV services for your family?’ – 37% selected ‘availability of children’s channels’, 27% selected ‘availability of entertainment channels’ and 15% selected ‘availability of sports channels’
  4. Respondents were asked: ‘Thinking about your child/children aged 0-6, what are their three favourite television programmes?’ – 40% of respondents selected Peppa Pig, 19% selected Horrid Henry, 16% selected Alvin and the Chipmunks, 15% selected Fireman Sam and 14% selected In The Night Garden
  5. Respondents were asked: ‘Thinking about your child/children aged 7-11, what are their three favourite television programmes?’ – 28% selected Scooby Doo, 28% selected Horrible Histories, 20% selected Spongebob Squarepants and 20% selected Tom and Jerry
  6. Respondents were asked: ‘Would you consider limiting your child’s screen time (i.e. time using each device) for each of the following devices during the summer’ – 79% selected yes for at least one device. 76% selected TV, 73% selected tablets, 70% selected consoles, 69% selected mobile phone, and 68% selected PC/laptop
  7. Respondents were asked: ‘How do you keep your child entertained during the summer holidays? Select up to three’ – 52% selected ‘day trips to the park’, 49% selected ‘playing in the garden’, 29% selected ‘day trips to the beach’, 14% selected ‘watching TV (live or on demand)’ and 6% selected ‘building dens’
  8. Respondents were asked: ‘How do you think your child would prefer to stay occupied during the summer? Please select 3 responses’ – 19% selected ‘playing on games consoles’, 18% selected ‘watching TV (live or on demand)’, 18% selected ‘using tablets’, 16% selected ‘drawing/painting/colouring’ and 12% selected either ‘reading – physical books’ or ‘reading – eBooks (e.g. on a Kindle or iPad)’
  9. Respondents who said that they would consider limiting their child’s screen time were asked: ‘You said that you would limit your child’s screen time, how long would you limit your child’s daily screen time to in a typical day?’ – The mean response was 2.2 hours. 60% of respondents selected between 2 and 5 hours, and 36% of respondents selected up to 1 hour.

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