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Are Gen Z & Millennials Really Watching Pandemic Movies During the Pandemic?

YPulse is carefully monitoring COVID-19’s impact on young consumers and how brands can respond. We’ll be providing new data and insights for you weekly to cope with the crisis, including special reports, exclusive data on Coronavirus and the next generations, and actionable insights on what brands need to be doing now.

You can access everything here on our young consumers and COVID-19 hub.

How many young consumers are actually binging pandemic movies during COVID-19, and what kind of content are the really looking for? We asked…

There is no question that COVID-19 is having an impact on the kinds of content that young consumers are watching. “Quarantine vlogs” are taking over YouTube, TikTok is full of new video trends, and reality shows have become the internet’s favorite distraction during the crisis.

But what about pandemic movies? Based on Netflix’s trending category, and many headlines, it would be fair if you thought that Gen Z and Millennials are all voraciously watching these types of films. In fact, Adweek reported that binge watching viewers are making disaster movies like Contagion, Outbreak, and Ebola: The Doctor’s Story more popular than ever before.

How many young consumers are actually watching these films in the middle of an actual pandemic? And is this the kind of content they’re looking for right now? We asked. YPulse’s exclusive research on entertainment during COVID (paid subscribers can see the full report here) looked into the platforms they’re watching during quarantine, the genres they’re watching more of, and what kind of distractions they’re open to brands providing. We also asked exactly how many had watched a pandemic or disaster movie because of the Coronavirus. Here’s what we found out:

When we asked “Have you watched movie about a pandemic or an apocalypse since you’ve heard of the Coronavirus?” overall, 31% of 13-39-year-olds said they have. So, while it’s not an insignificant number, it’s definitely not all young consumers who are binge watching this kind of content. When we look closer at who is most likely to be watching pandemic content during the pandemic, quarantined males are more likely than quarantined females to say they have, with a full two in five males saying they’ve watched a movie about a pandemic or disaster since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. Millennials are also more likely to be indulging in this close-to-reality escapism, with over a third of them saying they’ve watched, compared to just about a quarter of Gen Z.

For those who have tuned in, pandemic and disaster movies can actually provide a dose of hope. We asked those who had watched this genre how it made them feel, and while some said it made them feel “bad” or “anxious,” just as many told us it made them feel “good” or “better.” One 17-year-old male explained, “It made me in a way feel better, since seeing that the people were able to end the apocalypse just fine, reminded me that we can get through the coronavirus the same way.”

But, it is clear that this is not how most young consumers feel about pandemic movies, and the majority have not been watching this genre since COVID-19 began. So what kind of content are they interested in watching? We asked about the specific genres that they’re watching more of during the crisis, and found that overall, they’re opting for light fare over dark:

Almost seven in ten young consumers plans to watch more uplifting content in the coming weeks than dark content. Again, males were more likely to say they’re watching more dark content than females, and Millennials were slightly more likely to say they’re watching dark content than Gen Z.

Their desire for bright spots and reminders of positivity are clear, and even fueling new content online, with pure and good-news-based stories and shows thriving on social platforms during COVID-19.