Media Tide Changing?

This spring CloudKid went to the PBS Kids Producer’s Summit in Washington DC.  It was an amazing two days of workshops, speakers, and presentations about the children’s media landscape.  One of the highlights was keynote speaker Vikki Rideout from the Kaiser Family Foundation.   Rideout headed the landmark Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year Olds study that was released earlier this year.  One of the most interesting findings was:

For the first time over the course of the study, the amount of time spent watching regularly-scheduled TV declined, by 25 minutes a day (from 2004 to 2009).  But the many new ways to watch TV–on the Internet, cell phones, and iPods–actually led to an increase in total TV consumption from 3:51 to 4:29 per day, including :24 of online viewing, :16 on iPods and other MP3 players, and :15 on cell phones.  All told, 59% (2:39) of young people’s TV-viewing consists of live TV on a TV set, and 41% (1:50) is time-shifted, DVDs, online, or mobile.

41% (and growing) is a significant number that networks and investors should be aware of.  Children’s networks and publishers need to start looking at the web (and cloud) as a legitimate medium for new content – not to just reinforce their current IP.  PBS Kids funded two web-only projects in 2009 and they funded four (two new ones) this year.  I commend them for taking the initial risk.  It’s a start.

Until production and promotion budgets for web projects increase, we going to be swimming in a sea of sub-par web content.  If networks, studios, and publishers have the guts to spend a little more money to develop fantastic web-only properties, things could change. Until that happens, kids will be forced to watch shortened clips of TV shows over and over again on the web.