Contrary to the perception that the Internet is siphoning older kids away from television, a report by Magna Global analyzing Nielsen Media Research data shows that average 24-hour TV viewing by tweens 9-14 years old and teens 12-17 was stable in 2006 compared to the previous year.
The report also shows that TV viewing by kids 2-11 for the total day also was no different than a year ago. In fact, TV viewing by that age group was higher than it was five years ago.
"Claims that viewing among younger demos is on the decline are definitely at odds with television usage trends over the last several years," according to the Magna report by Lisa Quan. "Even with the newest videogames and online disruptions, younger viewers are still watching television just as they always have been."
During the fourth quarter of 2006, kids 2-17 watched more television in just about every daypart. Both boys and girls 2-11 watched more average minutes of television per week than the year before, and time spent viewing kids programming by the 2-11 and 6-11 age groups reached 8.75 hours, the highest level ever.
Live-action shows made a large contribution to the increase, the report said. Shows cited as being heavily watched by girls were Hannah Montana, That's So Raven and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, all on the Disney Channel.
But viewership was not as bright on the broadcast side. Average minutes viewed per week by youths watching kids programming on the broadcast networks was down by 15 minutes per week among 2-11 and 6-11 year olds. Syndicated kids shows were stable year-to-year among kids 2-11, but dropped slightly among kids 6-11.
On ad-supported cable, 2-11 year olds watched 8.6 hours of kids programming per week and 5.68 hours of non-kids programming per week in Q4 2006, up from 8.3 and 5.4 hours in 2005. Overall, kids 2-11 watched 17.3 hours of TV per week in 2006, up from 17.1 in 2005.
Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants was the highest rated Saturday morning show among kids 2-11, with an overall 5.5 rating between 9-10 a.m., and Nickelodeon had the highest ratings among all demos for Saturday morning kids viewing.