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5 habits shaping kids' TV viewing in 2019

They don’t want shows aimed at their age group, and they’d rather wait than view a programme when it first airs. Here’s how kids are really watching TV, plus who’s driving the trends.

Kids’ relationship with TV has been widely reported in recent months: online has overtaken TV viewing and kids prefer watching on demand over scheduled programming.

But our weekly interviews with our Trendspotter panel of kids, aged 9-12, allow us to delve deeper into their viewing habits – from the shows that get their full attention to others that are mere background noise. Here are the main trends, largely driven by one company.

1. Retro choices

Retro trends often peak during challenging times (perhaps providing comfort), and this is apparent on Netflix with its plethora of classic sitcoms and films. Nearly all of our Trendspotters now have access to Netflix, often with their own accounts, which skews their viewing choices towards the golden oldies featured on the platform.

Blasts from the past such as Teen Wolf (the film and the show) are popular, while classic sitcoms like Friends, Full House, Fuller House and The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air are picking up new fans across all age groups:

‘I’ve watched Full House on Netflix for the fifth time.’ Gabriella, 9

This retro style extends to newer shows (think Stranger Things with its Goonies’ vibe, and the throwback look of Riverdale, both huge hits with kids).

A family watching their favourite TV show
Family bonding in front of the TV

2. Recommendations matter Kids don't want to spend ages searching, when they can just select whatever pops up on their screen.

Netflix throws up various choices based on watch history (the company constantly tests user preferences down to the landing cards or images seen when scrolling through shows).

‘I see it [Stranger Things] on the top page every time I go to Netflix.’ Asena 10

Peer recommendations also play a huge part in viewing choices for kids, creating a playground buzz around a particular show:

‘Everyone talks about it [Riverdale] – even my friend who is too scared to even watch horror stuff, he’s obsessed with it. It’s not just boys, it’s girls too. It’s a little scary.’ Freddie, 11

3. ‘Watching up’

If a show scares kids or challenges them to step outside their comfort zones, they’re hooked, and so watching shows aimed at older age groups is far more appealing.

‘I watched Friday Night Dinner. One about condoms in it. The grandad actually bought condoms!’ Josh, 9

Awareness of these programmes comes from them being served up on streaming accounts or because older siblings are raving about them.

4. Bingeing rules

Why bother waiting for the next episode when you don’t have to? Kids spend an average of two and a half hours watching episodes back to back, found the Childwise Monitor Report 2019.

Kids even resist temptation to watch their favourite series as soon as it airs, just so they can be sure of a good old binge:

‘The next season of Agents of SHIELD is coming out. I'll wait until the season ends then I'll binge watch it – do nothing but sit in my PJs with popcorn and watch it.’ Freddie, 11

5. Event TV is a winner

TV is often the glue holding the family unit together. It’s the only time our kids enjoy scheduled TV shows such as Britain’s Got Talent and I’m A Celebrity (anything with Ant and Dec gets the vote), or films – particularly at Christmas time: the traditional family lockdown period.

Kids will come out of their rooms, put down their devices and enjoy laughing and egging on contestants with their parents and siblings, or watching their favourite films, making the TV a central part of family bonding

'Mostly my TV viewing was with mum dad and [sister] Connie snuggling down to watch a movie.’ Max, 11

How will TV viewing for our kids change this year? Will the launch of other streaming services, particularly with the Disney takeover of 21st Century Fox, affect Netflix dominance? Sign up to our fortnightly trend reports, see below, to make sure your brand keeps up to date …

How Beano for Brands can help your marketing strategy

Beano for Brands is a kid-first consultancy and agency for brands seeking to connect with a new generation who are already rewriting the rules of engagement, creativity and even the world around them.

Our fortnightly reports are drawn from a wide range of touch points with real kids and families: Trendspotters (a UK-wide panel aged 9-12), insight and analytics from – the UK’s fastest-growing kids’ site, external research and 80 years of working with kids. Sign up at

Pssst if you don't already get our FREE monthly newsletter updating you on the latest kids' insight, trends and industry news, click here. ​


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