Have kids shows began skewing younger in recent years?

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TheMisterManGuy

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Oct 23, 2014
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Throughout the 2000s and even the early 2010s to a degree, Kids animation and kids networks commonly targeted an audience aged 2 to 14, which covered Pre-School ages, all the way through Middle School. This made sense as 12-14 years old is sort of a transitional phase where you've become or are just about to become a teenager, with all the puberty and angst, but you still have the limitations and immaturity of a kid. Hence the half-kid, half-teen "Tween" demographic (9-14) that networks tried to cater to at the time. So I imagine a good chunk of this audience still tuned in to Networks like Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, even Cartoon Network regularly, while also starting to watch more teen/young adult networks like MTV, G4, or The WB.

But in recent years, it seems kids shows and networks who offer kids programming have narrowed down their focus, back to the more traditional and recognizable elementary school audience of kids aged 5 to 12, (or 2-11 to use the traditional Nielsen numbers). While I don't feel like there's anything wrong with that. Good TV is good TV, regardless of who it targets, It's a surprising trend nonetheless. My Theory is that kids begin to abandon kids shows at younger ages these days, save for the occasional kids cartoon. It seems by the time kids are in middle school now, they're more likely to be watching let's plays, music videos, anime, and mature Netflix shows than they are to watch shows aimed at kids. Sure, older audiences will probably go back to a show they grew up watching when they were younger, or shows with very broad appeal like early SpongeBob. But it seems there aren't many currently running children's cartoons on either the big 3, or even services like Netflix that would appeal to this slightly older, middle school demographic.

Advertisers also seemed to have caught on to this, and re-adjusted their marketing. Notice how unless its Marvel or Star Wars, neither Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon really run ads for PG-13 movies anymore for example. Today there seems to be just two worlds in animation and entertainment. Either its shows for kids 5-12, or shows for those 12+. No real in-between middle school-ish demographic like before. To me, it seems kids programs have shifted to a younger audience in recent years, but does anybody else feel the same?
 
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Honestly I kinda felt that most of kids cartoons on Big 3 are aiming younger in past few years when compared to their earlier years (save for few like Infinity Train). Granted there is nothing bad about aiming at younger demographic as long as they don't insult them.

I think most of teens and tweens watch non adult cartoons on streaming services specifically Netflix. I'm sure that there a lot of teens that are watching something like She-Ra reboot or Dragon Prince rather than let's say a cartoon on kid's cable network like Summer Camp Island.
 
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TheMisterManGuy

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Oct 23, 2014
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Honestly I kinda felt that most of kids cartoons on Big 3 are aiming younger in past few years when compared to their earlier years (save for few like Infinity Train). Granted there is nothing bad about aiming at younger demographic as long as they don't insult them.

I think most of teens and tweens watch non adult cartoons on streaming services specifically Netflix. I'm sure that there a lot of teens that are watching something like She-Ra reboot or Dragon Prince rather than let's say a cartoon on kid's cable network like Summer Camp Island.
Netflix cartoons tend to have broader appeal than most other networks these days. But even there, I'd say shows like Dragon Prince and She-Ra are more the exceptions. Whenever I browse the Kids section of Netflix, there's a lot of stuff that really wouldn't attract anyone beyond Elementary School. I imagine your average Middle Schooler or even High Schooler would be more into something like Stranger Things or Aggrestuko than "Team Kailye" or "The Healing Powers of Dude".
 
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The Overlord

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Throughout the 2000s and even the early 2010s to a degree, Kids animation and kids networks commonly targeted an audience aged 2 to 14, which covered Pre-School ages, all the way through Middle School. This made sense as 12-14 years old is sort of a transitional phase where you've become or are just about to become a teenager, with all the puberty and angst, but you still have the limitations and immaturity of a kid. Hence the half-kid, half-teen "Tween" demographic (9-14) that networks tried to cater to at the time. So I imagine a good chunk of this audience still tuned in to Networks like Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, even Cartoon Network regularly, while also starting to watch more teen/young adult networks like MTV, G4, or The WB.

But in recent years, it seems kids shows and networks who offer kids programming have narrowed down their focus, back to the more traditional and recognizable elementary school audience of kids aged 5 to 12, (or 2-11 to use the traditional Nielsen numbers). While I don't feel like there's anything wrong with that. Good TV is good TV, regardless of who it targets, It's a surprising trend nonetheless. My Theory is that kids begin to abandon kids shows at younger ages these days, save for the occasional kids cartoon. It seems by the time kids are in middle school now, they're more likely to be watching let's plays, music videos, anime, and mature Netflix shows than they are to watch shows aimed at kids. Sure, older audiences will probably go back to a show they grew up watching when they were younger, or shows with very broad appeal like early SpongeBob. But it seems there aren't many currently running children's cartoons on either the big 3, or even services like Netflix that would appeal to this slightly older, middle school demographic.

Advertisers also seemed to have caught on to this, and re-adjusted their marketing. Notice how unless its Marvel or Star Wars, neither Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon really run ads for PG-13 movies anymore for example. Today there seems to be just two worlds in animation and entertainment. Either its shows for kids 5-12, or shows for those 12+. No real in-between middle school-ish demographic like before. To me, it seems kids programs have shifted to a younger audience in recent years, but does anybody else feel the same?
As usual, I think it depends on the show, Steven Universe can go from goofy to serious, but when the stakes are real on that show gets serious and it can show real emotional depth when it tries hard. Star vs. The Forces of Evil tried to maintain the balance between wacky and serious storytelling and really fell apart due to having an ending that seemed to have darker than the storytellers intending due to rushing it.

The Owl House has some potential, even though it is early goings, we already have some groups saying its ''inappropriate'' for kids:


Also, there have been the Netflix shows, in addition to the ones mentioned, there is something like Carmen Sandiego or Kippo and the Wonder Beasts.

I think Rise of the TMNT tried to fill that niche, it is a shame it was shipped off to Nicktoons. I think the latest Marvel shows try to fill that niche, but all of them, except for Big Hero Six, are terrible.

So it depends on the show really and criteria you are using to determine which show is aimed at Tweens or not. Really, how do we determine whether the majority of recent animated shows have been toned down from the ones from previous generations?
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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The Owl House has some potential, even though it is early goings, we already have some groups saying its ''inappropriate'' for kids:

If conservative groups were truly concerned by people exposing their kids to the demonic they'd support somebody else for President.

Seriously, I'm sick of these groups playing the "Holier than thou" card while Shart Garfunkle is where he is.
 

RandomMe

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Not just kids shows, but kids channels. And here in Portugal it's a whole lot worse.

Starting in the mid-2000s when RTP stopped airing just obscure shows and brought in the moneymakers like the umpteen reruns of Make Way for Noddy and other shows that came in on a little delay like Caillou and Bob the Builder, Canal Panda decided to follow and is now a pre-school channel. When I was in kindergarten, there were no pre-school channels at all (CBeebies doesn't count probably due to it being on a couple of local providers here).

I've heard of a cautionary tale of a Polish village banning CN from under-7s. With Cartoon Network, the trouble starts here, because in 2016, a Portuguese newspaper (Expresso) went to a Cartoon Network Portugal press event and called it "cartoons that educate". This might be the reason why CN in the EMEA region is heavily censored. However, although this generation of CN shows might resonate to this demographic, it might generate causes of concern among parents.

Maybe 2013 was a bit of a watershed year, kids channels in general stopped caring peripheral demographics here.
 

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