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Breaking News: Young People Prefer Streaming Television

Recently, Variety Magazine reported that for audiences 8-18, streaming TV is the favorite entertainment delivery option.  Even more than video games, young people today are watching streaming video. However (and this is a big however) watching LIVE TV is still what they spend the most time doing. Here’s the breakdown of viewing habits:

Younger viewers spend more time watching traditional entertainment – 7.3 hours a week watching traditional TV versus 6.2 watching subscription, VOD, and 5.8 hours a week viewing streaming on laptops, iPads, or phones.

Further – parents still decide what children view (for the most part) so if you want to reach kids, start by reaching the entire family.

Favorite Types of Programming:

Streamed TV – 53%
Drama / Reality on Cable – 47%
Games – 36%
Short Videos – 34%
Network TV – 34%
Movies – 33%
Other cable programming – 29%
Sports – 17%
Live events – 9%
The News – 8%

Your reaction?

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  1. I guess by “streaming” you mean Hulu and Netflix, but I’m more interested in knowing the type of programs they are watching and why they watch it. As a media producer I would want to know how I could provide better content for them to watch. I analysed youth ministry content and it’s all serious stuff! How to walk with God, be holy, grow as a Christian, etc. Important? Of course :/ Fun to watch? Get wrapped up in a story? Authentic? Original approach? (Crickets chirping…) But I only point the finger to myself. I’m the responsible one here. It’s my job to provide better options.

  2. Content that matches the viewer’s demand is the main thing here in my view. Live TV is still desirable because of its value. We get content on tv we can’t get elsewhere. News is better on TV, watching without an ad between every video. Or, live sports!(Yes, it’s available elsewhere, but at additional cost in most cases) When the right mix of content and delivery platform match user demand, people watch. Haven’t you seen this in your own life? I have.

    1. True enough Nick. I’m in a hotel right now, watching a Star Trek movie through my iPad connected to the hotel TV set and watching the movie from Netflix. That confirms your position…

  3. I agree that viewer demand is the main thing as well Nick. I don’t find it surprising that younger audiences prefer streaming… we live in a culture of increasing immediacy. I want what I want now! It’s comical that I will find myself excitedly flipping on the tv to watch a particular show live only to realize I’m 10 minutes early and have to channel surf for a few minutes. Or, perhaps worse and a greater sign of something within my own soul, watching a favorite show live to find myself with increasing frustration at a commercial break. Streaming, for the most part, solves both of these dilemmas and gives us what we want, when and how we want it, on whatever medium we have at the moment. In some senses this is fantastic, but I worry about how we’re training our souls in an ever increasing “tech saturated” culture.

    1. Something that’s dramatically changed that for me is taking a HDMI cable and my iPad on the road when I travel. Now I can hook up Netflix to my hotel TV set and watch anything I want, instead of more “Law and Order” re-runs… 🙂

  4. I haven’t owned a “TV” since I left for college. Someone last year gave me a TV monitor and I have my Chromecast and AppleTV plugged into it and that’s all I need. We have a saying in my online world that if it’s not online, it’s not worth watching. I disagree with the idea that it’s cause we want it now – on a lot of cases I wait a day or months till it’s online to watch it – movies, shows, etc. The idea is more so I want to have control over when and how I watch it – on my phone, TV screen, ipad, computer and where and when. I don’t want a TV station to dictate when and how I consume media. I also use special apps that clean up their ads and broadcast to my TV without ads so I’m not interrupted or sold something i don’t want. I also have friends that will not watch TV news and think its propaganda – so they turn to online/YT sources and find that more credible. I don’t do TV news as well, I subscribe to crisis alert news and just get the facts rather than the fear based TV commentaries. I think younger audience are still watching traditional TV because they are in homes with parents that pay for their cable boxes – what they do when they are out of the home with their electronics might be a different story and where the industry will need to head.

    1. That’s a great point. What this 8-18 crowd watches in their parent’s home versus what they watch when they live on their own are probably quite different. However, between 8-18, this is a good indicator of how to reach them.

      1. Another question to ask is do they trust that source. Whenever a YTer crossover the “mainstream” media they often gets “betrayed” comments if they don’t keep up their online presences. That generation made the online world, so they know they rule it vs TV they know is set by someone else. So just some thoughts.

  5. Mostly it boils down to control. With TV there are factors that are no longer relevant. Commercials, day and time it comes on etc… Even with DirecTV there are still commercials that have to be pushed through. I don’t think we call it streaming anymore, but with ONLINE content there are not so many boundaries to wade through. We can watch 3 or 5 episodes of Person of Interest, and are no longer limited to what the networks want to dish out. Buffet style is ONLINE (the good and the bad, your choice), JENNY CRAIG is more like traditional TV (you will eat what we tell you – when we tell you).

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