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Millennials & Teens Sound Off: Their 20 Favorite TV Shows Right Now

We asked 1000 13-33-year-olds to tell us their absolute favorite TV show from the 2015-2016 season…

Last night, the Emmys awarded the critical winners of the TV industry—but who’s winning with young viewers? Millennials and teens are arguably the most hard to pin down audience in entertainment. They’re disrupting the industry, with less than half of 18-33-year-olds paying for cable. To all those who thought cord-cutting wouldn’t catch on—sorry to say, it’s still going strong. According to consulting firm SNL Kagan, an estimated 812,000 subscribers “pulled the plug on their pay-television service in the second quarter” of 2016—the “biggest quarterly loss” they’ve ever seen. There are almost 1.4 million less pay-TV subscribers in this year’s second quarter, compared to 2015. The loss mostly stems from the rise of inexpensive streaming services like Netflix,, and Hulu.

With competition for Millennials and teens’ attention at a peak, having a show that pulls them in is more valuable than ever. To find out what shows are having the most success drawing them in, we asked 1000 13-33-year-olds about the TV shows they’re watching, and which they like the most. When we asked what shows from the 2015-2016 season (not reruns, just those releasing new content) that they watched regularly, Orange is the New Black was the top overall response, indicating (as the awards show last night did) how much Netflix has come to dominate the TV industry in such a short time. But to really understand what’s appealing to young consumers, we asked “Which show that you watched during the most recent 2015-2016 season was your absolute favorite?”* We analyzed their responses to create a ranking of their favorite 20 shows right now:

*These were open-end response questions to allow us to capture the full range of shows that Millennial and teens are watching, and count as their favorites. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind, and those that are actually most loved. 

Sorry Walking Dead, you’ve been knocked from your 2015 first place position. Young consumers’ current favorite TV show overall is HBO’s Game of Thrones, followed by Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things. The fact that two of the top three favorite shows are from a streaming service indicates not just where young consumers are accessing content, but might also be influenced by how they can consume that content. We studied their preference for binging in our recent trend report, and being able to watch shows in one sitting might actually help boost their favorability. As we saw last year, shows with large, diverse casts are winning the generation over, and drama continues to dominate their viewing preferences. 

The top shows do shift slightly when looking at age and gender groups:

Game of Thrones rules the top spot for all groups other than teens, who were more likely to name The Walking Dead as their favorite. While Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things made the top five list for both groups, teens also named The Flash and Supernatural in their top five, while 18-33-year-olds named Grey’s Anatomy. That beloved medical soap opera also made females’ top five list, while House of Cards was more likely to be named by males. 

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.