YOUTH MEDIA: KIDS’ GUIDE TO TV - From cartoons for toddlers to teenager-friendly dramas, commercial TV programmers are battling to win the fickle attention of the youth market. Meg Carter reports

Cartoon Network

Cartoon Network

Think children’s TV, think Cartoon Network. With daily animated fare

ranging from The Flintstones to Cow & Chicken, Cartoon Network takes an

8 per cent share of total children’s TV viewing in UK multi-channel


Cartoon Network is owned by Turner Broadcasting, which is part of the

international media giant, Time Warner. It is available in the UK via

cable and satellite, where it can attract as many viewers as BSkyB’s

popular sports and movie services.

Forty seven per cent of the channel’s audience is aged between four and

nine, 65 per cent is under 24 years old. Top-rating Cartoon Network

shows among four- to nine-year-olds are those airing between 5pm and 9pm

each day. These include Dexter’s Lab, Johnny Bravo and Animaniacs.

The highest rating Cartoon Network programmes can deliver between four

and seven TVRs among four- to nine-year-olds.

Last month (August) it launched an ad campaign targeting 16- to

34-year-olds to promote its early evening strand, AKA, which shows cult

and classic cartoons. The campaign included radio ads and branded flyers

promoting club nights supported by Kiss FM and Muzik magazine.

Channel 4

Channel 4 is not a youth channel. But its distinctive remit -

challenging and idiosyncratic - has an obvious appeal to the 16- to

24-year-old age bracket, especially after 10pm and, with its recently

re-branded post-midnight 4Later schedule, into the small hours of the


Twenty two per cent of the total Channel 4 audience is aged under


It also has a strong youth and late-teen to early-twentysomething

audience for its comedy shows and movies. Top Channel 4 programmes among

this age group deliver between seven and 13 TVRs.

Meanwhile, Channel 4’s output for children attracts 5 per cent of all

children’s TV viewing in multi-channel homes. Although it has some

strong programmes directly targeting younger viewers, younger children

also watch shows intended for an older Channel 4 audience.

Its top-rating programmes for children shown during the first half of

this year were Merlin, South Park, Friends, Geri, Spice Girls USA and

Dawson’s Creek. At breakfast time, The Big Breakfast takes one-third of

the available 16- to 24-year-old audience, compared with GMTV’s 24 per


Channel 5

Channel 5’s audience has a younger profile than ITV’s. The broadcaster

takes a 3 per cent share of all children’s viewing in UK multi-channel


Milkshake!, which goes out each weekday morning from 7.30am to 9am,

targets four- to nine-year-olds with cartoons. High proportions of

ten- to 15-year-olds view on Sundays at 5pm, when the channel schedules

movies with teen appeal, soaps and teen-friendly adventure drama, such

as Xena - Warrior Princess and Hercules.

Meanwhile, Channel 5’s 16- to 24-year-old viewers account for between 20

per cent and 30 per cent of its total audience for football, Sunset

Beach and the Pepsi Chart.

Disney Channel

Disney Channel is heavily skewed towards a four- to nine-year-old

audience, with ratings for this age group peaking between 6pm and

8.30pm. The channel accounts for approximately 3 per cent of all

children’s TV viewing in UK multi-channel homes - and as it doesn’t

carry advertising, it appeals to many parents.

However, Disney Channel faces stiff competition from rival children’s

broadcasting specialists such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. And

recently, the BBC said it wants to launch a children’s channel on

digital TV.

In an attempt to deepen its appeal in local markets, Disney Channel last

year began commissioning and producing live action children’s drama

locally - one such show was the the critically acclaimed Microsoap, also

shown on BBC1.

Top-performing material for four- to nine-year-olds on Disney Channel

includes Pocahontas, Toy Story, 101 Dalmations and other Disney cartoons

which deliver between one and three TVRs among this age group.

Fox Kids

Fox Kids accounts for a 1 per cent share of children’s viewing - smaller

than its rivals, but tightly targeted to attract four- to 13-year-olds -

34 per cent of its audience is aged four to nine; 60 per cent is aged

four to 15.

Highest rating shows on Fox Kids include Goosebumps, Spiderman and Ace


Fox Kids, which was set up in Europe in 1997 as part of Fox Family

Worldwide - a joint venture between Saban Entertainment and Rupert

Murdoch’s Fox Broadcasting Company - has aggressive plans for expansion.

Last month it announced it is considering flotation in Europe to fund

further expansion.


Overall, ITV (including GMTV) takes a 20 per cent share of the total

children’s viewing in multi-channel homes - a figure which rises when

only the child-branded viewing period, CITV, is considered.

While ITV cannot compete on audience profile in terms of under-24s with

satellite channels (only 18 per cent of the total ITV audience is aged

24 or under), it does deliver higher numbers. ITV regularly achieves

between five and ten children’s TVRs with programmes such as Sabrina the

Teenage Witch and Finders Keepers during weekday CITV.

Weekend CITV-branded segments generate between five and eight TVRs.

Individual programmes in the rest of the ITV schedule - such as

Coronation Street and one-offs like The Brit Awards - can perform

especially well with 16- to 24-year-olds.

GMTV accounts for an estimated 25 per cent of breakfast-time viewing

among 16- to 24-year-olds, with an audience profile significantly older

than that of Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast. Over the weekend, however,

GMTV targets children. It accounts for 12 per cent of the breakfast-time

child audience in multi-channel homes.


Nineteen per cent of ITV2’s audience is aged 16 to 24, although overall

the channel’s profile is not particularly youthful. Top-performing

programmes among this age group, however, perform well and include

Videotech, The Mix, football coverage, Man o Man and NBA coverage.

The children’s strand, CITV, runs Saturday and Sunday lunch-times, with

a ’best of’ selection including CDUK, Paddington and Garfield.


The archetypal youth channel, MTV attracts only 2 per cent of the

children’s audience. However, 52 per cent of its audience is aged ten to

24. It has the best profile for 16- to 24-year-olds: 28 per cent of its

audience is aged 16 to 24 - a figure matched only by the specialist teen

channel, Trouble.

Youth ratings are typically highest at weekends, between 7pm and


MTV has strengthened its viewing base in recent months after a strategic

review prompted a rethink of its previous pan-European positioning. The

channel has since increased its emphasis on local audiences and

locally-produced material that is more in tune with regional tastes.

MTV, which is owned by the US media giant, Viacom, is currently

available in 21.5 million homes across continental Europe and a further

7.7 million homes in the UK and Ireland.


Nickelodeon accounts for 6 per cent of all children’s TV viewing in UK

multi-channel homes, and 62 per cent of its audience is aged between

four and 15.

The channel, which was launched in the UK in September 1993 as a joint

venture between Viacom-owned MTV Networks and BSkyB, broadcasts 12 hours

a day, seven days a week in analogue and fifteen hours a day, seven days

a week in digital.

Highest children’s TV ratings are achieved between 5pm and 7pm, with

programmes such as Sister Sister, Moesha and Rugrats proving the most

popular during the first half of this year. It regularly delivers

between one and four children’s TVRs in ’peaktime’ - 5pm to 9pm.

This month Nickelodeon UK launched a sister service, Nick Jnr, on Sky


Nick Jnr is aimed at the younger segment of Nickelodeon’s overall

audience - children aged seven and under - and claims to be the first UK

channel to initiate an additional voluntary code to protect its young

audience from inappropriate advertising.

Nick Jnr was previously a branded programming strand within Nickelodeon

proper, running from early morning to 2.30pm. It will now air on

analogue from 6am to 10am.


Rapture launched in November 1997 and positions itself between MTV and

Trouble. Its core audience is aged between 16 and 20. Programming

includes targeted teenagers’ fare as well as out-put with more general


The channel - which is owned by its management, United News & Media and

Telewest - broadcasts between 10am and 6pm at weekends and is available

in three million UK homes via Telewest and NTL cable networks and Astra


Later this year Rapture plans to expand distribution with the addition

of digital broadcasting and further cable deals. From January 2000 it

will broadcast seven days a week.

Sky One

Sky One takes a 5 per cent share of all children’s TV viewing in

multi-channel homes. Overall, 36 per cent of its total audience is aged

under 24.

However, particular programmes can combine large relative audiences and

good conversions for this age group - programmes such as Friends, The

Simpsons, South Park and the X Files perform well.

The strongest part of the schedule for 16- to 24-year-olds is Friday to

Sunday peak.

Recently launched shows include Pokemon, which is based around the

best-selling Japanese toy range of the same name. The UK-produced teen

drama, Dream Team, has done particularly well.

The Box

The Box, which was launched in 1992, is a 24-hour interactive music

channel with back-to-back music videos. It is scheduled according to

viewer requests, which total more than 100,000 a week. Forty two per

cent of its audience is aged between ten and 24 years old.

The channel regularly reaches more than two million cable and satellite

viewers and it is seen in a further one million homes on digital, the

channel claims. It is the fourth most watched channel among 16- to

24-year-olds in cable homes and delivers an average TVR of 0.25.


Trouble takes 2 per cent of all children’s TV viewing in UK

multi-channel homes. Its core audience is ten- to 15-year-olds - who

account for 33 per cent of the channel’s viewers; 61 per cent of its

audience is aged ten to 24.

Widely seen as the authentic ’teen channel’, Trouble’s schedule includes

a mix of drama, music and teenage issue-based material. Top-performing

programmes are Saved for the Bell, Weird Science, Fresh Prince, Sweet

Valley High and one-off shows, such as Smash Hits Winners Poll.

Trouble was launched as a standalone channel in early 1998 by Flextech,

although it had previously appeared as branded programming strands on

the former children’s channel, TCC, and Bravo. It currently broadcasts

from 7am to 8pm on analogue and 6am to midnight on digital.

From this autumn it will air a new branded programming block - TNBC - as

part of a deal with the US broadcaster, NBC.

UK Play

UK Play, a joint venture between Flextech and BBC TV, was launched last

October. It is aimed at 16- to 24-year-olds and airs 24 hours a day on

digital TV. The channel’s output is a mix of UK music and comedy re-runs

from the BBC library, with material such as Top of the Pops, Shooting

Stars and The Fast Show. Most of the material is repeats, although there

are original shows, such as Flatmates, a quiz show presented by Sara


Other material is re-packaged, such as the recent UK Play Presents, a

series of big name concerts which have included Robbie Williams, Pulp

and Blur.