Podcasting’s reach has grown in recent years thanks in large part to older listeners coming onboard. But the longer term health of the industry will continue to be driven by younger demographic groups, and a new study that examines Gen Alpha’s media habits suggests on-demand audio is already in a strong position. The UTA report says half (50%) of kids aged 3 to 12 currently listen to podcasts, and one-third (32%) listen at least weekly.
Some podcasters have already created verticals targeting younger listeners, like Wondery’s subscription option Wondery+ Kids, iHeartRadio’s Creativity network in partnership with Collab Inc., Apple Podcast’s collection of kid shows curated by Common Sense Media, and the subscription service Pinna. At the same time kid’s entertainment companies such as CoComelon, Arthur and American Girl have all jumped into podcasting. But the UTA study suggests there remains an opportunity for content creators. One third of parents it surveyed said they would like to have more kids’ podcasts or audio stories available.
“Given they’re forming these habits of regular podcast listenership at a young age and that more and more titles are being created for them, it points to the medium being increasingly relevant to them over time,” said UTA IQ's Cultural Insights Lead, Emily Anatol.
UTA – the Hollywood powerhouse talent agency – currently represents kid-focused audio networks including Tinkercast and Gen-Z Media, as well as shows such as GoKidGo, among others.
Beyond spoken word, “Baby Shark” is just the tip of the iceberg to music-based audio. UTA’s Kids’ Entertainment Evolution study points to an analysis which revealed kids’ music has had the second-highest increase in unique listener growth across major genres on Spotify with a 16% increase in the average number of people listening to artists who have released kids-focused music.
But similar to podcasts, the UTA survey of parents shows an opening. Nearly half of U.S. parents of kids ages 3-12 would like to see more music-based products and content for kids.
The UTA study finds that in the first six months of 2022, Gen Alpha’s video viewing hours of the top 10 monthly kids’ content channels on YouTube grew by 15%, which is 9.5 billion more viewing hours compared to the six months prior, according to Tubular.
“Gen Alpha’s entertainment usage surged during the pandemic and that has not slowed,” said Anatole. “This generation is poised to become the largest ever, reaching more than two billion globally by 2025, so it’s critical for creators and brands to understand what’s driving their choices. Not only does this help to effectively engage Gen Alpha now, but it also provides a glimpse of future trends that will define our culture.”
Since parents frequently control what media children consume, UTA’s survey of parents is also revealing. It finds that 94% think it’s important that kids’ entertainment promotes learning and education. And 74% say their kids' screen time doesn’t bother them if it’s productive or educational.
But the data shows parents are not always looking for reading, writing and arithmetic types of education. Of the parents surveyed, many also want sociocultural issues integrated into kids’ content. That includes 82% who think it’s important that kids’ entertainment addresses diversity and representation and 72% who believe it is important that kids’ entertainment tackles climate change.
“Although parents want these very important topics addressed in kids’ content, they also cite a need to balance gravity with levity,” said Matt Feniger, UTA IQ’s Director of Cultural Insights. “Content that offers accessible education and positive inspiration, as well as pure fun, joy, and creative self-expression, will be best positioned for success with Gen Alpha and their parents.”
To that end, UTA says 92% of parents said it is important that kids’ entertainment addresses arts and creativity; 92% seek out activities, experiences, and/or content that encourage their kids to be creative; and 88% feel that play and fun for kids have become more important due to the heaviness of current events.
The UTA IQ survey was conducted among 1,000 U.S. parents with kids ages 3-12, between June 22 and June 29.