New family viewing dynamics give rise to a modern-day heirloom

Mukta Chowdhary, vp cultural insights, WarnerMedia

In a world rapidly filling with NFTs, crypto and metaverse musings, high-value possessions are not always tangible. Instead, digital attachments are just as sentimental as physical ones. 

This love for all things virtual is giving rise to a new kind of family heirloom, one that is fluid, ever-lasting and crosses multiple generations — the entertainment heirloom. 

For parents, the shows they love, the fandoms they’re part of and the movies that remind them of their childhood are all things they want to pass down to their children. Recent WarnerMedia research, titled “Entertainment Heirlooms: Exploring New Family Streaming Dynamics,” found that 75% of parents agree it’s important to share the entertainment they love with their children. Over half of parents say they select content to ensure their kids become fans of the same shows they love. 

Unlike traditional heirlooms, older generations are not the only ones sharing. For example, 71% of parents agree their favorite content crosses generations and can be watched with grandparents, parents and children. Toddlers introduce their favorite cartoon characters to grandparents; teenagers share superhero remakes with their parents and siblings exchange lists of their top sci-fi films — all spurring new family bonding moments and rituals. 

However, to reach viewers at every life stage and make an impact that can last a lifetime, brands must understand the nuances of these new viewing dynamics. Beyond that, marketers have an opportunity to get closer to the content that fuels these modern-day heirlooms — and potentially create their own.

Parents’ attitudes have shifted regarding screen time

Despite digital detoxes and device-banning campaigns of the past, screens have now become a welcomed member of the family. Half of parents no longer feel guilty about screen time. Parents have realized that curated quality time spent with devices can be a highly valuable experience for their kids (rather than serving as a digital babysitter). 

Overall, parents have become more intentional about what their kids consume on their screens while looking to reap the benefits — 64% agree that screen time can be a positive vehicle for growth. As a result, parents are permitting more video time than ever before. 

This intentionality extends to the entertainment heirlooms they chose to share with their kids as they expect content to be additive to their children’s lives. 

For example, some parents turn to content to co-teach and supplement educational concepts amid constant school disruptions. In contrast, others want it to be a creative muse that encourages kids to dream big. A growing number of parents also want their children to be exposed to diverse human experiences and identities — 68% of parents seek out content for their kids that’s diverse in all aspects.

The big screen reclaims the living room as co-viewing sees a renaissance

While the early days of streaming were characterized by fragmented viewing across individual screens, the pandemic in many cases unified households around a single big screen in the living room. 

Over the past few years, parents have invested in projectors, soundbars and popcorn machines to elevate their viewing experience. For families, entertainment nights are a form of creative expression, as they bring in elements from their favorite stories to their homes, with 83% of parents saying they’re creating new traditions for family viewing. And it’s not just how they watch; it’s what they watch that’s changing. 

Parents are stepping beyond family-friendly territory when co-viewing with kids — more than half agree that they have been letting their kids watch slightly more mature programming for their age since the pandemic. This shift opens up more opportunities for families to share memories and create content connections across multiple generations while also providing brands with a broader array of opportunities to reach parents.

Now that parents desire to pass along favorites and discover new content gems with their children, they’re fully leaning into the entertainment they watch together, with 80% trying to be more present when watching content with their families. Advertisers need to recognize this shift when thinking about who’s in the room and how they can reach them.

How and where brands show up matters

As the bar has been raised for what parents expect from family entertainment, so have their expectations for brands. In an on-demand streaming era in which advertising opportunities are becoming more limited, marketers are racing to create an even tighter connection between brands and the content they support. This is even more evident as families bond over beloved IP. The immersion that occurs when these entertainment heirlooms are shared also offers significant benefits to marketers — 69% of parents agree they trust brands more if they advertise around high-quality content. 

And parents want trust along with the fun — 70% of parents trust brands that have more to offer than simply advertising their product to children. In February 2022, families had two of their favorite fandoms collide — basketball and ‘Teen Titans Go!’ — in a one-of-a-kind basketball event, ‘Cartoon Network Special Edition: NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest Presented by Nike.’ The event brought the Teen Titans superheroes to the real world to infuse their comedic flair into the sports commentary. 

Parents are becoming more lenient about screen time, but they continue to be cautious about what brands they bring into their lives. Fortunately, there is a symbiotic relationship between content and advertising as 64% of parents agree brands that advertise during the family or children’s favorite shows are top-of-mind. To build deep relationships with consumers, marketers need to be as intentional with their advertising as parents are with the brands and content they welcome into their homes. 

In this new world, brands need to be purposeful about when, how and where they show up in the lives of their consumers. In the same way that entertainment is already part of the family, brands can earn their place in the home by adding value and being complementary to family and kids’ programming.  

Sponsored By: WarnerMedia

More from Digiday

What TikTok’s e-commerce launch could mean for marketers and content creators

TikTok has officially launched its new e-commerce platform, TikTok Shop, earlier this month on August 1. Using the new e-commerce platform, brands and creators can sell products directly on the platform, potentially creating new revenue streams, and tap into the short-form video platform’s growing popularity.

‘The influencer industry can be really vile’: Confessions of an influencer marketer on the industry’s unfair hiring practices

While the influencer industry might sound exciting and like it’s full of opportunities, one marketer can vouch for the horrific scenarios that still take place behind the scenes.

Digiday+ Research: Marketers said revenue grew in the last year, with more growth expected ahead

After a tumultuous 12 months, marketers are getting a clear picture of how they really did during a time of true uncertainty. And, as it turns out, it wasn’t all that bad.