Today’s children are the first generation of television viewers to make no distinction between broadcast networks and those only available by cable or satellite, a researcher said Tuesday.
Asked which television network they turn o first, 31 percent of children ages 6 to 11 picked cable’s Nickelodeon. Fox was second with 14 percent, followed by The Disney Channel and The Cartoon Network.
The research was commissioned by the MTV Networks, operators of Nickelodeon, MTV and VH1. A total of 275 children were questioned last May, said Betsy Frank, executive vice president of research and development for the networks.
Networks such as Nickelodeon will use the research in trying to persuade advertisers to pay more for commercial time. Advertisers pay more on broadcast networks like CBS, ABC, the WB and Fox because they are available to most viewers without expensive cable or satellite hookups.
By an overwhelming majority, children ages 8 to 11 named Nickelodeon their favorite channel, Frank said.
Nielsen Media Research figures also show a rapid shift toward cable viewing on Saturday morning, traditionally the time most networks devote to children’s programming.
In the 1991-92 television season, the broadcast networks had a 72 share on Saturday mornings, meaning that nearly three-quarters of television sets in use were tuned in to them. This year the broadcast share tumbled to 45, Frank said. CBS’ share has sunk from 24 in 1991-92 to 4 this year, she said.