Family-Friendly Premium Content Drives CTV’s New Digital Hearth

Survey shows kids influence what's on during family watch time

While the surge in streaming content viewership is well-documented, there’s another emerging trend that advertisers need to be aware of: the acceleration of family watch time on connected TV.

This is the essence of the new digital hearth. Because the pandemic shut down many of the usual outside-the-home activities and entertainment options, parents and kids are gathering together in the living room to watch family-friendly shows. This isn’t just on well-known streaming platforms, but also includes a wide range of advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD) services.

And the co-viewing trend shows no signs of abating. It will remain well beyond the pandemic. When we asked over 2,500 households with kids under 12, “Once life returns to normal, how do you anticipate time spent watching shows and movies with your kids will change?” two-thirds said they will continue watching at an elevated level.

Premium content is the key

The digital hearth gives advertisers access to high-quality inventory and far more flexibility.

Most people know YouTube’s programming as user-generated short sketches and gags best watched on a smartphone. But the world’s largest video site contains all kinds of programming, including long-form shows.

When comparing January and October 2020, WildBrain Spark’s approximately 4 billion monthly views on YouTube saw a 55% increase in watch-time on a connected TV. In other words, kids and families are watching together on TVs. Given that YouTube is still the top AVOD destination for kids, the YouTube CTV app’s long-format kids programming is thriving. This pattern is largely due to the show-based broadcast content they carry.

With many entertainment productions limited or postponed due to Covid-19, iconic and nostalgic shows are surfacing in households with kids. YouTube helps kids discover content, and to a kid who has never seen it before, a show like Inspector Gadget is new.

Families also trust well-known entertainment brands and IP. WildBrain kids brands—such as Caillou, Strawberry Shortcake, Inspector Gadget, Yo Gabba Gabba!, Teletubbies, and Polly Pocket—are all performing well on YouTube’s CTV app, Roku, PlutoTV and other AVOD platforms. It’s all about increased co-viewing on CTV as parents sit down to watch these shows with their children.

Improved experiences boost receptiveness

Connected TVs with linear channels and video on-demand provide the entertainment experience people love, but with better tech and better control than the declining broadcast and cable TV experience. With premium, show-based content, viewers are more likely to watch ads all the way through, even when the dominant ad length on CTV is the standard 15- to 30-second spot.

This tolerance for brand messaging demonstrates the creative form-factor-fit and value exchange of ads placed in content that an audience understands.  This is especially true when compared to short-form user-generated content and “lean-in” influencer-based channels often found on YouTube. While the reach can be strong, brands likely need to pay a premium to guarantee their ads are actually viewed until the end.

The combination of beloved franchises, broadcast-style shows and a large-screen CTV is attracting entire families who want to lean back and watch together.

In fact, our new study found that over half of parents say kids frequently influence what the family watches and they watch more with their kids than they did prior to Covid-19. That gives advertisers new opportunities to reach family audiences at the best possible time: when they’re relaxing, receptive and looking to be entertained.

Charles Gabriel is VP and head of U.S. ad sales at WildBrain Spark, whose premium kids and family network on AVOD reaches one in three kids globally. He is responsible for expanding WildBrain Spark’s advertising efforts to its partners, media agencies and brands in the U.S. WildBrain Spark is part of WildBrain Ltd., a global leader is kids’ and family entertainment.