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The Most Popular Kids’ Shows in America Aren’t What You Think They Are

Are kids watching what we think they are?

Do you know what the most popular TV show for kids is in America? It might not be what you think it is. Figuring out which shows are the most popular for kids right now doesn’t really have anything to do with what you’ve heard about the most. In fact, according to the data, the biggest kids’ shows might shock you. Unlike previous decades, the popularity of a show isn’t measured by TV ratings. One data-gathering group, Parrot Analytics, measures the popularity of a given show in average on-demand expressions per capita. This means their algorithm takes into account viewership, as well as social media engagement. In other words, Parrot has taken a look at the clicks, as well as the buzz, to figure out which shows are truly the biggest. The main focus here is which shows are in demand — it seems like it would be a no-brainer but actually isn’t. 

Based on their latest survey in June, here are the seven most in-demand kids’ shows in the American market.

(Note: We have excluded The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy from this list for the obvious reason that they aren’t kids’ shows. However, it should be noted that those three shows all popped up in the top 10 in terms of shows Parrot thinks are in demand for children. ALSO: Fatherly is in NO WAY suggesting these are the best kids’ shows right now. Instead, we’re just pointing out that modern data collection suggests these shows are actually the most in demand.)

1. Spongebob Squarepants

According to Parrot Analytics, the kids’ show most in demand right now is the nearly 20-year-old Nickelodeon cartoon Spongebob Squarepants. For the uninitiated, Spongebob Squarepants is about a sea sponge who works as a fry cook and whose unbridled enthusiasm for fun and joy turns his cynical neighbor Squidward’s life into a living hell.

2. Rick and Morty

You’ve heard of this one and of course, there’s an argument that it’s barely for kids(The series airs on Adult Swim, after all.) And yet, if you have kids of a certain age (probably around 7 to 15) they’re likely obsessed with this show. And they’re not alone.

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3. Steven Universe

This Cartoon Network stalwart has been hanging around on lists like this for a long time. You probably haven’t really thought about it too much, but because the series is about a guy who hangs out with talking crystal gems who shape-shift, the show has sort of limitless potential to make all kinds of kids happy. Don’t call it a gem just because there are talking gems, but … oh … well … you get it.

4. Dragon Ball Super

Anime is big with kids, much bigger than perhaps the Western-centric parent might believe. Dragon Ball Super is connected to another manga/anime franchise you’ve heard about: Dragon Ball Z. For the layperson, this means Street Fighter–esque magical fight scenes. However, because the series is mostly about a Goku (the hero of Dragon Ball Z) obtaining god-like powers and then trying to figure out what to do with said powers, you could argue the whole thing is a metaphor for puberty.

5. One Punch Man

This is another manga comic turned hit anime series. Based on the title, you can guess what this is about. (Hint, one punch means what you think it means.) Definitely a show for older kids.

6. My Hero Academia 

Based on a manga comic of the same name, this animated series is fairly new, debuting in 2016. Part of the appeal of this show is that it’s all about a kid born into a world in which superpowers are normal and boring. Pretty cool concept, right? The show is about to enter its fourth season, in October 2019.

7. PAW Patrol

Boom! Take that, PAW Patrol! Apparently American kids like Rick and Morty and various anime more than they like the adventures of these cloying puppies. Then again, because Parrot gets its data partially from social media, it stands to reason that a show for preschoolers might not seem as in demand as other shows for older kids. Also of note, when you look at global in-demand numbers, PAW Patrol is number one.