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Kids Watching More Children’s TV

December 30, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Don’t be deceived by those dwindling ratings _ children are watching more and more television.

Children aged 2-11 watch an average of 312 1/2 hours of kids’ programs each year, the vast majority on cable networks like Nickelodeon, a new study of their viewing habits revealed.

That’s up from 295 1/2 hours the year before, said the report from BJK&E Media Group of Manhattan, a media buying firm. The report doesn’t measure how much adult-oriented television these children watch.

``It’s easier to think that overall kids’ viewing is going down because network ratings are going down,″ said Steven Sternberg, senior partner at BJK&E. ``But there’s so much more kids’ programming on cable.″

Boys watch an average of 53 hours more per year than girls, the company found.

The study also shows adults watch an average of 41 hours of childrens’ programming a year, although it’s tough to tell whether that’s for guilty pleasure or if it’s just parents watching with their children.

Although Saturday morning is when most broadcast networks place their childrens’ programming, it’s not when most kids watch. Children are more likely to be watching on weeknights and weekday afternoons.

The study also found that more than 40 percent of children aged 6-11 have televisions in their bedroom to watch on their own. Nearly a quarter of toddlers aged 2-5 also have their own TVs.

Among the networks, CBS’s Saturday morning ratings have dropped to the point where it has only one-quarter the households tuned in this fall than it did two years ago. Ratings for Fox and the WB are also down for the same period. ABC’s Disney-oriented schedule is improving in the ratings. NBC programs specifically for teen-agers on Saturday mornings.

Nickelodeon is now the highest-rated children’s network, with the Cartoon Network also quickly gaining.

The audience is likely to splinter even further next fall when the Fox Family Network begins airing childrens’ programming extensively, Sternberg said. The Cartoon Network is also getting a competitor in Toon Disney, which will show Disney-produced cartoons.

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