Connecting with younger audiences has been a perennial problem for public service media.
The new generation has grown up in the digital era and some have never even consumed linear TV. Television’s weekly reach for young people is 20% lower than that of the general population in Europe and has declined by more than 11% in the last 5 years.
However, the pandemic has shown that there is still a huge appetite out there for relevant programming that tells stories and provides information in a way that is familiar and comprehensible to younger audiences.
Public service media (PSM) reached 57% of kids in Europe every week with their TV services last March. Kids were watching an average of 19 minutes more television every day as the lockdown set in.
PSM’s online services also became increasingly important with the daily reach of children’s websites’ up by 2.3 times in April-May, compared to the start of the year. And one in five children used PSM's education offer in the first full week of lockdown alone as broadcasters took on the mantle of schools.
These figures are hugely encouraging although I don’t think we can underestimate the challenges we will continue to face.
The market is more crowded and more fragmented than it ever has been– with global platforms like Disney+, YouTube Kids and Netflix Kids competing fiercely for children’s eyeballs. With social platforms, gaming and multiple new entertainment choices also vying for children’s attention, it's certainly a challenge for our Members to engage with the next generation.
But we can take hope from audience behaviour over recent months and the lessons we have learnt. Here are my top five takeaways:
As many of us across Europe face a second lockdown, we need to build on the lessons we’ve all learnt over the last few months and make sure our children are well-catered for with media that educates, informs and entertains in equal measures.
Here at the EBU, our Young Audiences Initiative will continue to work to help our Members get a better understanding of and connection with this important demographic. Look out for our new ‘Youth – What Works’ report which will be published later this month and our upcoming EBU Kids thematic webinars.
We are all at least partially shaped by the media we consume as children – let’s try and ensure that it’s a positive, inspirational and life-affirming experience for all our young people.