Sky Kids currently operates as a video on demand (VOD) service, which makes total sense as there is a load of existing research around content viewing that tells us that there has been a shift from linear TV to VOD. So many of us are used to having everything at our fingertips and the thought of having to wait until a certain time to watch something just seems absolutely ludicrous. 


But Sky has recently found out that actually for families with children aged 7 and under, sitting down to watch linear TV together is actually quite a big part of their day. In light of this, Sky kids will be offering a new ad-free linear channel from February 2023, included in the Sky kids package. The channel will feature a mix of Sky originals and acquired series’, giving viewers a similar variety to the VOD service. 


Sky kids’ new proposition got us thinking about linear TV - what are the benefits of it for the audience, and will it always have a place in the content viewing landscape, particularly for children and their parents?


I would argue that a large appeal of linear TV from a family perspective is the fact that there’s a specific time of the day when a show airs and everyone in the family knows where they need to be. This can be a benefit for quite a few reasons, such as: 


  • This allows families to have an allocated period of time for family bonding and relaxation together, rather than never all being in the same place at once because of busy schedules 
  • Structuring morning or evening routine. For example, families might have an evening routine of ‘watch our family favourite TV’ at 5pm, dinner at 6pm, bed at 7pm. Having a 5pm deadline for the show to start helps families stay within their desired routines, rather than letting things get later and later as they do other chores because with VOD they could start the show at any time 
  • TV time becomes an event. By this I mean, TV becomes more about those moments that you all sit together, and less about something that is just always on, no ones really paying attention or taking anything from it 

But despite these things, can linear TV really compete with the plethora of VOD services available that allow children and families to watch whatever they want, whenever they want and for however long they want (no tantrums when the content is over because you can roll onto the next ep!!)? 


I think there is definitely a place for linear TV, because it focuses so much on bringing together families at a specific time of the day and we know spending time together is more and more important these days, but I do believe it’s place in the TV viewing landscape is still a smaller one than VOD.