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Millennials’ TV Picks: Top 10 Shows They Watch & Plan To Watch

We asked 1000 13-33-year-olds to tell us the TV series they watch, and the new shows they’re planning to tune in for…

Traditional TV is hitting a crisis moment, but that doesn’t mean that Millennials aren’t watching. They still love TV content, they’re just completely uncommitted to viewing it the way that networks and executives are used to, and probably would like them to. 

Let’s review where we are today: The numbers continue to indicate that Millennials are “fleeing” traditional TV. Live program plus seven days of time-shifted television viewing has gone down 14% among 18-34-year-olds—that’s 1.2 million viewers lost. Viewing among 12-17-year-olds dropped 16%, 437,000 viewers, and 2-11-year-old viewers dropped 10%, 502,000 viewers. The numbers represent a shift from TV that some are calling “irrevocable,” and we’d have to agree. 

Our September monthly survey of 13-33-year-olds nationwide was all about TV preferences and behaviors, and our respondents told us themselves that television’s traditional structure doesn’t necessarily mean much to them. In response to the question, “Which channels do you watch regularly (once a month or more often)?” one 29-year-old female said, “I don’t watch any channels, just hulu and Netflix,” and a 28-year-old male set us straight with, “It’s 2015. We watch specific shows; not channels.” Streaming has clearly altered the way that many young consumers think about and interact with TV series and networks, and those services are creating their own original content that is contributing to the “too much TV problem.” But the shift away from the traditional TV structure by no means equals a rejection of TV content: 97% of Millennials told us that they watch TV shows at some point during their year, 66% watch weekly via antenna/cable/satellite/fiber, 65% watch weekly streamed over the Internet via official sources, and 22% watch weekly streamed over the Internet via illegal download (sorry networks). They are still devoting their time, energy, and in some cases some serious fandom influence, to their favorite shows…but it is more difficult than ever before for networks to keep track of that viewing, which is a mish-mash of time-shifting, streaming (some on borrowed accounts), bingeing, live, and mobile. So we decided to find out which series they’ve been watching, and what new fall series they’re planning to tune in for. 

We gave Millennials and teens a closed list of shows pulled from TV Guide, and asked which they watched during the 2014-2015 season. Here are their top 10 watched shows from that list: 

One interesting thing about the top ten list is that it is a combination of network, cable, premium, and streaming originals. Again, young consumers’ disregard for television tradition is made clear here: they don’t care where a show is airing, if they like it, they’re tuning in. Of course, males and females didn’t necesarily have the exact same taste in TV. Here are the top ten lists of shows watched during the 2014-2015 divided by males and females: 


While males and females do share several of their top ten series (The Walking Dead, Orange Is the New Black, American Horror Story, Family Guy, The Big Bang Theory, and Modern Family) their rankings are not mirror images. Family Guy and football rise to the top of the male lists, while comedies The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family dominate with females. Female Millennials were also more likely to watch talent reality shows like The Voice and Dancing with the Stars while males are more likely to tune in for business competition series Shark Tank. 

Of course, in the era of too much TV, there are a huge number of new shows launched each year, all trying to capture young viewers’ attention. This year, there are 34 new shows lined up for the fall season on the TV Guide list. We surveyed Millennials and teens on their awareness of all 34, and found out which they are most likely to tune in for. Here are the top 10 shows they have heard of and plan to watch:  

Not surprisingly, shows with some sort of legacy were more likely to make their top ten list than brand new series without a history. Minority Report is based on the movie, Heroes Reborn and Fear the Walking Dead are a spinoff and a reboot of previously existing shows, Scream Queens is created by popular showrunner Ryan Murphy (who brought Glee to the world), and of course The Muppets and Supergirl need no introduction.