For young kids, YouTube beats Disney, Oreo

A new study has determined something most astute parents are already hip to: YouTube is the most-loved brand with their young kids.

The Alphabet-owned digital video service scored highest with ages 6 to 12 for the first time in market research firm's Smarty Pants eighth annual "Brand Love" study. YouTube beat out more traditional kid-friendly brands such as Oreo, Disney and Toys 'R' Us, and also bested its online TV counterpart Netflix, which ranked 11th with the young cohorts.

"Based on kids' attention spans now, (YouTube has) the type of content they really crave," said Blair Fischer, who analyzed data for the Smarty Pants study. "They can operate in isolation, and enjoy two- to three-minute, snack-sized videos, versus watching long-form movies on Netflix."

For its report, Smarty Pants surveyed a representative sample of U.S. households over a three-month period, asking 8,125 children and their parents to evaluate 285 consumer brands spanning around 20 categories. The firm ranks brands using a custom "Kidfinity" score, which measures brand awareness, love and popularity on a scale from 0 to 1,000.

YouTube, which ranked 7th in 2015, grew in popularity among tweens ages 9 to 12, but particularly with boys in the demographic, according to Smarty Pants. The video app also picked up approbation from parents, making it more of an accepted staple on kids' mobile devices.

"YouTube is becoming a brand that are getting more comfortable with," Fischer said. "And kids are getting at earlier ages."

Though not this year's top , the Disney Channel ranked 9th and received an honorable mention from Fischer, who said the linear TV station has done a great job appealing to children with new programming. And thanks to Stars Wars licensing deals, retailer Toys 'R' Us is also winning back favor with . The toy company placed 7th this year, up from 21st last year.

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©2016 The San Diego Union-Tribune
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