UK kids’ YouTube usage ‘plateaus’ | Media Analysis | Business
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Only days UK regulator Ofcom found that YouTube was more popular among the nation’s children than TV, a study from market research firm Kids Insights has found that their usage of the online video programme is actually flatlining.
kidsinsight 4Feb2019
Technology firm Kids Insights ispecialises in research and insights on kids and their ecosystems and the fundamental finding of its Kids Insights’ Future Forecast report was that passive You Tube activity is increasingly facing competition from more interactive experience - controlled by children - is set to be another key trend across both radio and TV, with smart speakers and AR integral to the user experience. Moreover, brands were bypassing broadcasters, streaming services and other third parties, instead developing their own direct-to-consumer, ‘over the top’ channels. It further predicts that established channels like YouTube will be challenged by esports and the emergence of new platforms such as the child-friendly, short-form mobile video platform TikTok .

And despite the UK broadcast regulator stating that YouTube was being watched by 89% of 12-15 year olds,  the Future Forecast data — which had a sample size of 20,000 surveys, ten times larger than Ofcom’s — predicts YouTube will go into decline, as in 2018 the number of children spending time each day watching YouTube declined from 61% to 51%.

The continual rise of gaming, especially within the esports arena, is witnessing a noticeable uptick among girls in particular, both as viewers and players. This could likely reduce more of YouTube’s younger audience. The study notes that the so-called ‘girl gaming’ phenomenon is another sleeper trend, with the £130 billion sector not yet fully waking up to the fact it has now overtaken shopping as a hobby and that growth among girls in esports is outpacing that of boys.

Regarding the growing popularity of Smart Speakers and virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, the study found that is another rapidly emerging trend. Ownership of smart speakers among children in the UK increased by 76% in 2018, meaning a fifth children now have access to voice activated services. Use of such voice-based systems by children also rose by over 83% in the last 12 months. As a result, Kids Insights predicts that after ‘Generation Type’ and ‘Generation Swipe’, ‘Generation Speak’ is set to make voice activation the preferred operating system for children over the next 12 months.

Other key predictions from the report is that the direct-to-consumer revolution will really kick in in 2019. The by-passing of linear TV by Netflix is well known but the study noted further traction for DTC with brands as diverse as DC Comics and Formula 1 have launched their own video-on-demand services.

Nick Richardson, CEO of The Insights People, which produced the study conceded that it would be a brave organisation to predict the decline of YouTube, but whether it’s through the rising popularity of collaborative activities, such as commenting on esports online or making fun videos with friends to post on TikTok, a decline in children undertaking passive activities like watching YouTube looks inevitable. “Gen Speak - children using a smart speaker to call up content, answer a homework question or order a new pair of trainers with their own pre-paid credit card - is rapidly becoming the new normal in many homes, and we see this trend continuing,” Robinson remarked.

“What [Kids Insights’] Future Forecast report,Kids Insights’] Future Forecast report, reveals is that ...kids are increasingly making their own decisions about what they want, how they want it and when. The cultural, social, financial and technical ecosystem of children is also rapidly converging, simultaneously fragmenting audiences even further as more peer-to-peer collaborative content is developed and more special interest communities evolve.”