Watching TV remains a popular pastime for American families, making families a prime target for pay TV marketing. Mintel’s Family Leisure Trends US 2015 report finds that 96% of families had watched a movie or TV show as a family in the previous three months. Over three-fourths of children report that they love watching TV, and 32% of kids see the TV as a source of learning, according to Mintel. With kids and their parents placing an emphasis on TV consumption, marketing messages for pay TV services have honed in on safety, entertainment and education in order to appeal to parents.

32% of US kids see the TV as a source of learning

Pay TV marketing often addresses parents’ concerns about keeping their kids safe when consuming content. Mintel’s Lifestyles of Young Families US 2015 report finds that 36% of parents worry about their children being exposed to predators and/or inappropriate content online. Parental controls or child-friendly apps help relieve parents from the worry that their children might be exposed to inappropriate content. Several providers have invested in apps and platforms that feature only child-appropriate content, enabling a worry-free experience for parents. Comcast showcased its Kids Zone, a child-friendly version of its X1 video platform, at the Internet and Television Expo this spring. The offering includes nearly 8,500 kid’s movies and TV shows offered via VOD. Kids Zone disables certain features to ensure kids won’t stumble into content that might be inappropriate for them. Also in May, DirecTV debuted a dedicated mobile-video app designed for children ages 5-10. The app includes kid-friendly shows and is intended to offer children a safe and simple viewing experience. Both Comcast and DirecTV teamed up with Common Sense Media to incorporate age-based ratings and reviews into these offerings.

In addition to safety, messages highlighting the entertainment value of mobile video content have also been incorporated into Internet and TV promotions. These messages are likely to appeal to affluent parents, in particular. Mintel’s Activities of Toddlers and Preschoolers US 2014 report, finds that parents of toddlers and preschoolers from households making $100K+ are more likely than less affluent parents to agree that digital entertainment devices are a good playtime activity. Nearly 70% of affluent parents agree that tablets and other devices are good playtime activities for children.

75% of US parents try to limit their child’s exposure to “mind-numbing” TV programming

As important as it is for parents to keep their children entertained, they also look for content that is educational. Mintel research show that 75% of parents agree that they try to limit their child’s exposure to “mind-numbing” TV programming, preferring educational content instead. The educational value of children’s content or resources available from a pay TV service is often overlooked altogether, or relegated to a brief mention in a busy mailer. There may be an opportunity to better amplify the educational piece of content when marketing to parents in order to alleviate their concerns about mindless TV. Additionally, providers offering children’s content in Spanish (or another language) have an opportunity to promote these children’s shows not only to parents who speak Spanish with their children at home, but also as an educational tool for children who may be just starting to learn the language through lessons outside the home.

In addition to children’s movies and TV, some providers are getting more creative in their children’s offerings. AT&T, for example, recently tapped into another popular and educational pastime among parents: reading with children. Mintel research shows that 84% of parents have read to their toddler or preschooler from a book in the past three months. Nearly a third of parents had read to their young child from a tablet computer. AT&T is offering a new way to share stories with children by offering narrated Disney stories on the U-verse platform, which enables kids and parents to read along with the words on the TV screen. The service caters to parents’ desires to help their children learn to read and to share in story time.

Ultimately, pay TV marketers have widely communicated the entertainment aspect of children’s content through their marketing efforts, but have an opportunity to place greater emphasis on the educational piece of children’s content messaging. This may help marketing resonate better with the three-quarters of parents who are worried about their children consuming too much “mind-numbing” TV. Whether it’s educational programming, games, stories, or children’s content in another language, marketers have an opportunity to intensify messaging, particularly when promoting service add-ons to existing customers who are already consuming a lot of children’s movies or TV shows.

Emily Groch is Mintel Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications. She provides omni-channel marketing analysis and competitive insights to wireless, TV, internet, over-the-top, and home security service providers across the U.S. and Canada.

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