Media Tracker: How Millennials & Teens’ Viewing Changed This Year

We track 13-34-year-olds’ media consumption habits throughout the year, and today we’re looking back at what shifted in 2016…

In our trend The Post-TV Gen, available to Gold subscribers tomorrow, we found eight in 10 Millennials and teens predict that digital services will eventually replace cable and satellite programming. We’ve watched their Post-TV behavior develop in real time, thanks to our monthly surveys of 1000 13-34-year-olds, which include a quarterly media consumption tracker. This year, cable has lost even more of its grip on these next generation viewers. Throughout 2016 we’ve seen a slow but steady decline in cable / satellite / fiber optic TV consumption of video content weekly by 13-33-year-olds, coasting from 48% in late January to 45% in early September. Netflix, on the other hand has grown significantly, rising from 67% to 72%, becoming the top service being used by Millennials and teens to watch video content, followed by YouTube. In fact, when we asked what networks they watch, Netflix is the top “network” watched monthly for both teens and older Millennials. 

But we’ve also seen the screens that they view this content on shift significantly. As evidenced by our own research, focusing on mobile video consumption is key to reaching young consumers, as TV and its traditional offerings slowly loses its grip on them. When it comes to the devices that 13-33-year-olds use to watch video content weekly, TV-based video content consumption has been flat through the year, and in our September media tracker Topline Report, their smartphone was the number one device that young consumers are watching video content on each week, followed by laptop, and HD TV.

Mobile has definitely taken on a bigger role in young consumers’ weekly video consumption this year. At the beginning of 2016, laptops were the top device for weekly consumption among 13-33-year-olds at 65%, with smartphones coming in second at 55%. But in the September tracker smartphones were chosen by 67% of 13-33-year-olds as a video content consumption device, overtaking laptops at 63%. Currently, those who are viewing content on TV weekly are devoting more concentrated time to that screen, but smartphone and laptop viewing hours are beginning to rival the set: 

Half of those watching on smartphones weekly are watching 1-4 hours of content on the device, and one quarter are watching 5-10 hours on their smallest screen, a significant amount. 

So, is TV as we know it dead? Not yet, but it’s no longer the main source of entertainment for today’s young consumers—we’re reaching the point of the Post-TV Gen. Six in 10 young consumers say, “I don't know what I would do without streaming services” like Netflix, which now captures more teen and Millennial audience power than cable services. The rise of these services over traditional cable has definitely been driven largely by demand for digital video among Millennials and teens. 

Gold subscribers can access the full September media tracker Topline Report referenced in this post here, and our most recent media tracker survey and report here. Click here to contact us if you are interested in gaining access to our media consumption tracker and our other monthly survey data. 

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

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “A lot of people stay in jobs they hate. They feel stuck or need the money. I refuse to do this. I just gave up a Nursing career to be a CSR and I have never been happier.”—Female, 27, IN

YouTube is cracking down on creators that participate in dangerous viral challenges. The media giant updated their community guidelines to take a stronger stance against stunts that spin out of control—like the Tide Pod Challenge. Any creator that performs “pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger” will earn a strike—three and they’re out. What could constitute a strike? Just ask Jake Paul, who recently drove blindfolded for the #BirdBoxChallenge. (The Verge)

The inner five-year-old of Millennials everywhere is jumping up and down for Hot Topic’s Polly Pocket collab. In partnership with Mattel, the brand that wins at delivering unique styles is dropping a 17-piece collection of nostalgic merch. (The line looks a lot like another throwback collection we called out last year.) In celebration of the iconic toy’s 30th birthday (feel old yet?), ‘90s kids can cop everything from bags to hats to mini makeup palettes that feature shades like “Made in the 90s.” (Nylon)

YouTubers Life OMG! is like The Sims for a generation of aspiring social media stars. Players can pretend to be a video game streamer, a passionate creative, or another influencer. But the game is just as realistic as the kids who play it, making them do chores and deliver newspapers when they’re off the air. Similarly, most kids seem to know the dream is not a full-time gig; just take it from nine-year-old Oliver, who explains, “Of course I will have a good job as well, not just YouTube." (Vice)

Big brands are swooping in to save young shoppers from 2018’s oat milk shortage. The buzzy beverage has become the environmentally friendly alternative to almond milk for Millennial & Gen Z shoppers seeking dairy-free and vegan options. It became a barista favorite this year, mainly thanks to industry upstart, Oatly, which is opening a new factory to up their production. But they better hurry: big brands like Pepsi Co.’s Quaker Oats, Danone’s Silk, and Califia Farms are all getting in on this grain-based trend. (Bloomberg)

The most old-fashioned form of TV is experiencing a surge: over-the-air. While the Post-TV Gen continue to cut the cord, more are buying physical antennas to tap free networks and watch live events. Nielsen data found that this kind of old-school appointment viewing jumped from 9% of all homes in 2010 to 14% last year. Diving deeper into that 14%, about three in five also subscribe to streaming services like Netflix, and their median age is 36. (Fortune)

Quote of the Day: “I’d rather do a job I'm passionate about for a lower salary than do a high-paying but low-rewarding job.”—Male, 18, MA

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies