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Kidvision The kids are up to something. Their Saturday-morning TV usage slumped 12 percent over the past three years, but, according to an analysis by Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt Media, there's a lot more to the story. Total viewing-across all dayparts, not just Saturday morning-by 2-11-year-olds has been remarkably stable; it's just that the over-the-air networks are no longer the usual winners when kids play dial roulette, nor is Saturday morning all there is to the game. Cable offers several full-time kidcentric channels to an audience that doesn't always see a difference between "regular" TV and cable. In the arithmetic of a 10-year-old, there's no difference between 2 and 65 when these are channel numbers. While the Bozell study points out that things are not as bad as they seem for advertisers seeking to reach children, they aren't especially good, either. Total time spent by kids watching kid shows rose 5.9 percent between the '94/'95 and '96/'97 seasons. Curiously, adult viewing of kid shows was up 7.8 percent and total household viewing of the juvenile fare gained 9.1 percent over the same span. Maybe the kids really are up to something. We may, in this upcoming generation, be seeing the loss of audience to non-TV endeavors, such as videogames, computers and, perhaps, even books.

-Alan Gottesman (westendal pobox.com) is principal of West End Consulting.


THE GOTTESMAN FILE
Total time spent viewing kid shows has grown over the past three years, but kidvid viewing by adults has increased faster than kidvid viewing by children.

...................Kids 2-11.....Adults 18+.....Households
.....'94/'95*.....295.0............38.4............160.1
.....'95/'96*.....295.5............40.4............167.9
.....'96/'97*.....312.5............41.4............174.6
.....Growth.......5.9%...........7.8%............9.1%

..........Source: BJK&E Media. *Figures equal hours of viewing per year.