Research: Repeat Viewing from Kids Drives Huge Share of Streaming Time
It’s hard to remember a life without streaming. Just nine years ago, Netflix launched its first-ever original series, “House of Cards,” and others soon followed. Since then, the streamer had been operating as a distributor of acquired content, which today still drives a huge amount of engagement on the platform. Similar to how the cable networks were able to differentiate themselves over previous decades, streaming platforms have been developing programming to differentiate themselves and attract more niche audiences. This is the type of content that engaged audiences in 2021.
Nielsen’s recently released Streaming Unwrapped 2021 data suggests kids titles like “CoComelon,” “Luca,” and “Moana” were the most-watched. For the top 10 acquired streaming programs, “CoComelon” was #2, next to “Criminal Minds” and made it to the very top of the list across 56% of Hispanic, Black, and Asian viewers in total. The popular kids show had the highest multicultural audience of any of the top 15 acquired titles.
Several of these acquired titles attracted massive amounts of viewing time, despite having a run on linear networks. While “Criminal Minds” attracted the most viewing minutes over 322 available episodes, “CoComelon,” with just 15 episodes, accounted for 33.3 billion minutes of viewing broadly across Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.
So, how can a series with only 15 episodes generate that much viewing? The answer is pretty easy to figure out. Nielsen’s Streaming Unwrapped data revealed it’s a common trend among kids programs: repeat viewing. In its core audience of kids two to five years old, the average viewer watched each episode nearly three times in the fourth quarter alone, which looks more like 180 episodes when extrapolated over a year.
Moving on to the movie category, there are a couple of common themes for titles to successfully reach the top 10 list. Action is always a best bet to reach a wider audience, however for an even greater reach and repeat viewing, a kids’ movie will bring the bacon home. Oh, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson should definitely be in your next kids’ movie (he starred in three of the Top 2021 films).
60% of the top 10 movies, which includes a bunch of Disney+ titles such as “Luca,” “Moana,” “Ray and the Last Dragon,” and “Frozen II,” captivated 40% of their audience from kids aged 2-11. “Cruella” missed the mark by just over one-third. “Luca” was by far the winner among that 2 to 11-year-old audience in 2021 with a 17% lead over “Moana,” which finished second. While more viewers streamed “Luca” than “Moana,” the typical “Moana” viewer tended to watch it more times. Therefore, “Moana” holds the title as the most-streamed kids’ movie in 2021.
Disney+, Netflix, Amazon, and HBO Max are the biggest platforms that recognize the importance of children seeing themselves in their content. And apparently, there’s nothing more relatable to toddlers than a singing boy with a single blond curl. While Disney+ attempts to venture outside its expected genres, it’s clear that younger audiences are still its main target.
WarnerMedia Kids & Family, on the other hand, has recently made some steps towards the diving board, with its recent acquisitions, bringing popular digital preschool content to Cartoonito on HBO Max and Cartoon Network. This includes popular shows from Moonbug Entertainment (so yes that means “CoComelon”), “Blippi,” “Lellobee City Farm,” “Mia’s Magic Playground,” and Cartoonito’s new acquired series “Vlad & Niki.” However, they definitely need to start releasing some more original series for kids if they want to truly sink their teeth in.
Regardless of genre or intended audience, the streaming content from 2021 highlights how critical it is that audiences see themselves in the content they seek out and consume. A deep understanding of program audiences and how to engage them will be foundational to retaining existing viewers as well as attracting new ones.