The growth and changing landscape of children's TV shows in 2023 in the UK

7 January, 2024

Image: PAW Patrol, TVOKids

Over the past year, there has been a flood in demand towards animation children’s media, especially those provided by or accessible on streaming platforms. Children now have easy access to media, any time of day, anywhere on phones, tablets and other electronic devices. 

Animation in particular is a way of bringing fun and creativity into the lives of children whilst also serving as an educational tool to improve communication and emotional awareness skills. Newer shows, such as the very consistent Paw Patrol, focus on problem solving, teamwork and confidence lessons to engage and teach young children, through a fun and relatable show about loveable puppies


The top ten children’s shows of 2023 in the UK are all cartoons or animations that are largely episodic which allows for the audience to dip in and out of the series without any knowledge of an over-arching story. This is perfect for children and is likely a large factor as to why these shows are so in demand.

Animations are on average 34% less expensive to produce in bulk than live-action shows and so are perfect for the large quantity of episodes required from children’s TV show. Further, if the availability of children’s shows is mostly animation, the demand will mostly reflect this as seen by the data for 2023.

All of the shows above are also accessible on a streaming platform which is not only convenient for parents, but also readily available to children at any time. Proven long-time successes of shows such as Spongebob Squarepants and Peppa Pig are still thriving in demand, likely due to the fact that they have a previously established trust from parents and so will continuously be introduced to children. 

Newer shows like Bluey, first released in 2018, had popularity with not only children, but adults as well, with the show having such a good reception on social media. Even dog parents fell in love with the show and would leave their dogs watching. Now on the 3rd season, Bluey has a grand total of 150 episodes and the large number of episodes available is likely a huge contributor to the consistently high demand figures for the show.

Parrot_Share of Demand for All On-Platform  Children’s Series  .jpg

Post Covid-19, a study by BMC Public Health into the screen-viewing behaviours of children in the UK, showed an overall increase in time spent watching TV of 68% on a weekday and 80% on a weekend. They attributed this to an increase in the availability of new forms of technology including YouTube, social media and new streaming services and a possible inability to escape this habit post-lockdown. 

Apart from BBC IPlayer, the other most popular streaming services were all paid subscriptions and not restricted to episodic release which is more common of the BBC. Having all the entertainment options in one place is an attractive and convenient option for parents. For example, on Netflix UK, you can stream SpongebobPeppa PigPaw PatrolThomas & FriendsPokemon and Little Baby Bum; 60% of the top ten most in-demand kid’s shows in the UK last year. 

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The pulses in demand for these children’s TV shows mostly coincide with the UK school holidays, with particular peaks around the July-August summer holidays and Christmas. Other differing peaks, such as that of Spongebob Squarepants, indicated on the graph, are most likely in response to the release of new content. A further peak is expected this year around the release of Netflix’s new Spongebob movie - Saving Bikini Bottom: The Sandy Cheeks Movie. 

There is a peak for Paw Patrol around early October where the show reached a demand rank of #6 in the UK compared to all other shows, not just those in the children’s genre. This is likely due to the run up to the release of the Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie on the 13th October 2023. 

Overall, the demand data for children’s TV shows is very consistent and does not fluctuate too heavily, which could be owing to the reliable, consistent nature of children’s shows in general. This is a demonstrated success for streaming services and a well-loved formula for parents, so this consistently is expected to extrapolate further into the future. Unlike other genres, the changing landscape post-Covid and in 2023, for children’s media, is less attributed to the content produced, but to the content that is most convenient to produce. 

Parrot_Scatter Plot Showing the Demand for the  Children, Animation and Family Genres  .jpg

Across three different genres, children’s animation is the most in-demand, consistently over the course of 2023. 

In the animation genre, children’s shows, such as Spongebob Squarepants, Peppa PigPaw Patrol and Bluey, are the most in-demand, reaching the outstanding bracket compared to the average TV show, consistently. This could be because most animations, while appealing to all ages, are generally aimed at children, with content that tries to engage and entertain a younger age bracket. Shows like Spongebob not only charm younger audiences, but likely have such a high demand due to the established fan base of older audiences, seeking nostalgia and a light-hearted, fun show.

The family genre also shows a high bias towards animated children’s shows, likely due to the fact that they are the only options with content that is appropriate for families with younger children. 

Throughout last year, there has been a definite consistency in the demand for animated children’s TV shows and these are mostly accessed from the big streaming services used in the UK. The reliable, bulk nature of the releases of these shows has proven a well-received and stable product for streaming services in the children’s TV genre.  

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