Children struggle to find and identify Australian content, according to new research conducted by Swinburne and RMIT Universities.
YouTube is the msot popular viewing platform amongst Children aged 7-9 followed by Netflix and ABC iview.
But only 15.2% of children selected Australian content as their first choice with many struggling to identify between Australian and non-Australian content and were unclear on how to find locally made content.
The research conducted on behalf of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation was presented at the Australian Children’s Conteent Summit. It concluded that discoverability across crowded platforms was a key issue for children on Smart TVs and Streaming platforms.
44 children aged 7-9 were observed watching television in lab environments, first on their own and then with 1 or 2 parents. Two week diaires also logged their viewing habits more extensively.
Just over half of the children “scrolled” (51.4%) to find content rather than searching (48.6%) in observation sessions. Children tend to choose their own content. Of the 272 choices selected by children, 223 were TV shows.
Of the top 5 most watched shows, 3 were Australian:
3. Total Drama
4. Little Lunch
5. Floor is Lava
Jenny Buckland, CEO of the ACTF said discoverability and marketing were key factors in helping Children find Australian content.
“I know Crazy Fun Park struggled to really find a big audience. It was launched on New Year’s Day and people in that age group aren’t necessarily all tuned into iview when they’re 11, 12, 13. So finding it is a real challenge. It’s something that I think we should look at with technology.
“We’re thinking at the moment if there some kind of app where you can direct the consumer to where the Australian children’s content is…. whether it’s on ABC iview or SBS on Demand, Stan, Netflix or Disney -if they happen to have an Australian children’s show- that you could easily as a consumer find it and be taken to that platform.
“I think it would really help because they don’t give kids shows that much promotion and make a big deal of it. So it just becomes really hard for people to find it. Because when they do find it, they love it.”
ACTF found Children most often went to Netflix first in observation sessions (36.4%) then YouTube (34.4%) and ABC iview (21.21%).
A parent survey being conducted with nearly 300 parents over a 4 year period found Bluey is far and away the preferred viewing preference for co-viewing. Parents valued Australian content for its relatability, humour, and educational value and favoured streaming services with clearly demarcated kids sections, Australian content, and content that can be watched together as a family.
What Children’s TV shows/content do you most like to watch with your children?
Disney is mentioned separately as Disney and Disney Movies – composite score puts it at 14% of respondents
Weekends were the most popular times for co-viewing, with afternoons, followed by weekend nights.
Timeslots are also a key factor in the Free to Air space with some shows in ‘off Broadway’ timezones or buried on multichannels on the weekend.
Buckland laments that even a critically-acclaimed show such as Nine’s Lockie Leonard, at 26 episodes from 2007 – 2010, became hard to find.
“It was like 1:00 on a Saturday for 12 episodes and they stopped it and they put it on several months later at 1:30 on a Saturday. It’s still one of my absolute favourites. It had a beautiful cast, Sean Keenan in his first role, Rhys Muldoon… they didn’t know what they had. You might have got a family audience for that if you’d given it a decent shot.”
ACTF currently has Wind Catcher, a film in production with Stan, animation Eddie’s Lil’ Homies with Netflix / NITV, Little J & Big Cuz with NITV, Kangaroo Beach with ABC.
“There’s quite a lot, but all of that $20 million we received a couple of years ago has been allocated.”
ACTF is also awaiting a government decision on local content quotas for Streaming platforms and has advocated a similar position to others in the production sector.
“We’ve asked for 20% expenditure obligations in Australian content, and to carve out 20% of that as a minimum for the kids audience,” says Buckland.
“It’s pretty modest, really. But I think if you don’t say some of it has to be Children’s it won’t be prioritised, because the prime time audience will be prioritised.”
“The production budgets in Australia have gotten really high. So that’s making it harder and harder for people to finance and get their budgets together. The number of episodes that are being commissioned is smaller,” Buckland explains.
A standard commission now is around 8-10 episodes, contrasting with shows like Dance Academy 2010- 2013 which produced 65 episodes.
“That’s how you fall in love with the characters and they mean something to you. But no-one is commissioning content like that any more,” she continues.
“I’m quite excited by how beautiful and high-end some of these shows are, but to get a second series and to make sure that the audience finds it is really challenging.”