Teaching Pre-Schoolers The Perks Of A Fast-Forwarding TV Life

My four-year-old just graduated from Noggin to Nickelodeon. Now she needs to take another course -- one in commercial-skipping.

This past September, Noggin, the Nickelodeon-owned commercial-free pre-school channel, transformed itself into Nick Jr. There is also a Nick Jr. on the main Nickelodeon channel itself. It's an early-morning block of TV shows.

Recently my daughter's TV viewing has been transitioning from decidedly pre-school-targeted shows -- "Max and Ruby," and "Dora the Explorer" -- to shows that will air on the Nick Jr. channel and on the Nick Jr. programming block. She's watching the slightly older stuff -- in particular, "The Fresh Beat Band," also a pre-school-targeted show but featuring 'tween musicians/singers.

While setting the DVR for that show, I realize what comes with age: more exposure to commercial messages. Nick Jr.  runs commercials against "Beat Band"  featuring toys, videos, and in-house Nick messaging -- apparently the stuff my four-year-old really needs.



It is now that I realize my 75% rule kicks in -- the one that theorizes no matter what you do, 25% of anything on average is wasteful -- time watching TV, the money spent on contractors to improve your house, the gym workout you had this week.

As much as parents want to completely eliminate lame, inappropriate, or heavily commercialized TV content  for their kids, the fact of the matter remains that 25% of the time this kind of content is probably on the children's TV screen.

But don't fret. A perfect educational/marketing-free world of entertainment doesn't exist. This doesn't mean you can't do something to provide a better experience for your kids. Hello, fully functioning DVR remote!

Even at her young age, my daughter is already adept at digital media. Her feats include manipulating the computer mouse on her mother's iMac for games, interactive content, and videos on Nick Jr., Playhouse Disney, and PBS Kids.

My daughter already knows how to start and stop the action from our DVR when she needs to take a bathroom break. Now, I can teach her the best part of the device: fast-forwarding.  Four-year-olds always want to control stuff. I'm just giving her better tools.

Of course this is not all bad news for marketers. Teaching my daughter about DVRS will probably mean -- what else? -- more TV viewing. (We are at the currently recommended one-hour-a -day threshold for young kids). 

The message for marketers in all of this: Use your technology to get to me and my daughter -- your new savvy TV consumer -- to buy those products you believe will change our lives.

But you need to hurry up; kids' marketers are already moving ahead. Talking about TV while pulling out of the driveway one day, my still-preschooler said innocently enough: "Daddy, could we watch 'High School Musical'?"

7 comments about "Teaching Pre-Schoolers The Perks Of A Fast-Forwarding TV Life ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 30, 2009 at 10:13 a.m.

    How is "more TV viewing" any benefit to marketers if she learn to skip the commercials? Duh. Wait 'til DVRs all have dual-tuners. That way, she can watch two live shows at once and miss all the commercials, by viewing asynchronous "live" content: Just go to the channel without the pesky ads and flip back and forth.

  2. Wayne Friedman from MediaPost Communications, November 30, 2009 at 11:40 a.m.

    Many TV research studies have shown over and over again more TV viewing means more chances viewers will view commercials. That's because, on average, 75% of the time viewers fast forward through commercials. Even with all the new TV technology a good chunk of viewers still watch commercials in real time.

  3. Mary Padula from The Star Group, November 30, 2009 at 12:47 p.m.

    Ahhh, but be careful; as my 8 year old (who is quite adept with the DVR) told me...he watches commercials so he can figure out what he wants...

  4. Bob Mackenzie from Vandalay Industries, November 30, 2009 at 1:38 p.m.

    Great article Wayne! Have you seen Ameba yet? ( I've been following them for the past few months and it looks like they have a service almost exactly as you described. It's commercial free, it has content from around the world, (something Nick and the like don't have) and you become the "Network Programmer" picking programs for your kids to watch - on demand.

    It uses as set top box which acts as their "walled garden" but it seems to support both the newer HDTVs and the older Tube TVs that kids may have inherited for their viewing.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 30, 2009 at 2:47 p.m.

    Are you training your daughter's grandparents too?

  6. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, November 30, 2009 at 6:42 p.m.

    Wayne, per your comment, research studies also show that viewers see commercials skipping by in fast-forward mode and especially remember words, brand names & logos that appear in the center of the screen.

  7. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, February 22, 2011 at 2:48 p.m.

    Continuing on the DVR's ADVANTAGE for commercial viewing...

    One of TV's problems in all the textbooks is that the ads disappear - they're transient. But with a DVR, when an important ad for us comes up, we can rewind and look at it again, save it to show to someone else, etc. All things that were a perceived advantage for magazines.

    Do I care that the consumer skipped 499 ads before rewinding that one? Not really. All advertising (including the hippest viral social video) works this way. Consumers skip a lot of messages because they aren't important to us. It's the one message that is which needs to hit home - and DVR's HELP it hit home.

    Anyway, this is all backed up by the research which shows that a decade after the onset of DVR's, there has been no decrease in TV ad effectiveness - and there may even have been an increase.

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