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Gen Z & Millennials Don’t Have the Same Favorite Streaming Service

Gen Z and Millennials watch content in different ways—and it shows when we ask them to tell us their favorite video streaming service…

We’ve told you that despite having more streaming choices than ever before (a.k.a. there being a streaming war for viewers’ attention) young consumers aren’t showing signs of SVOD fatigue yet. Over three in five 13-37-year-olds currently pay for an video streaming account, according to YPulse’s most recent media consumption survey, and our research shows that the majority are already paying for more than one service. Even before the buzzed about launch of Disney+, 59% were paying for two to five. Older Millennials are even more likely to pay for multiple services, with a full 64% of 25-37-year-olds streamers paying for two to four services.

But even though they’re willing to pay for multiple platforms, the increasing number of options means that they do have to make some choices—they can’t sign up for everything. More services will be entering the fray soon, with HBO Max and NBC’s The Peacock launching in 2020 (and strategically stocking up on some of Gen Z and Millennials favorite shows in preparation) The reality is that some SVODs are going to win out over others—and that newcomers are going to impact the subscriber numbers for older players like Netflix. Despite some claims that new streamers aren’t trying to steal young viewers away from the competition, there’s no question that it will happen. In fact, 22% of the 13-39-year-olds who have signed up for Disney+ tell YPulse that they’ve unsubscribed from another service as a result—and 38% say they’ve spent less time watching another service.

With a lot in the balance, and young consumers driving streaming behavior, knowing who’s staying on top with these viewers is increasingly vital. So in the wake of the Disney+ launch we asked Gen Z and Millennials, “Which video streaming service is your favorite?” Their top answers have some interesting commonalities, but right now, the top favorite among Gen Z and Millennials is not the same:

While 19-37-year-old Millennial viewers have Netflix at the top of their ranking (and these groups were far more likely to name the service as their favorites than others), Gen Z teens are more likely to say that YouTube is their favorite video streaming platform.

This is Growing Up YouTube at work. Gen Z was raised on the video sharing platform, and are far more likely than Millennials to say that their favorite content growing up was on YouTube, not TV or another service. This generation’s lifelong exposure to the site has shaped their media preferences in a lasting way—as is clear with this ranking. Netflix is a close second with the group, but YouTube is still their favorite. The difference here is also likely a sign of how the generation is watching content: Gen Z prefers to watch videos on their phones, and YouTube was designed for it.

Meanwhile, Netflix continues to be the favorite among Millennials, who learned to binge watch on the service and hold it in high esteem—it ranks not only as their top media brand in our youth brand tracker, but one of the best performing brands among Millennials across industries.

But of course, there’s another major note to make on these rankings: Disney+ is already a favorite video streaming platform among 13-18-year-olds and 19-25-year-olds (it was a close #6 for the oldest group). We asked young consumers if they have signed up for Disney+, and 44% of 13-39-year-olds tell us that they are currently subscribers. Already, the service outranks cable as a service that young consumers are using to watch video content weekly, and the majority of both Gen Z and Millennial subscribers tell us that they have recommended Disney+ to others.

In other words, in a short amount of time Disney+ has gained an impressive amount of young users, and made a big impression. Their favorite streaming services might be the ones they’ve known longer, but we’ll have to continue watching the space as newbie SVODs steal more of the spotlight—and viewing time.