Spoiler Alert: Millennials Watch TV Shows - Just Not On TV

Everyone’s getting excited for the Fall TV Season, but is that really what we should be calling it? These days, a better term might be the Fall Screen Season or the Fall Entertainment Season. Or the Fall Cross-Platform Media-Mashup Season.

I’m a perfect example of why TV is no longer about television. While I’m definitely looking forward to seeing new episodes of Game of Thrones and Grey’s Anatomy, I probably won’t be found watching them on that big screen in my living room. I’m more likely to be curled up with my tablet after my kids are in bed, or snatching a few minutes on my smartphone while waiting in line somewhere, and trying hard to avoid any conversation about my shows until I’ve been able to catch up.

That trend is particularly strong for Millennials, and compounded for moms like me, thanks to our compressed schedules. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the numbers. 



With each generation, TV shrinks in importance

A recent Deloitte study found distinct differences in viewing habits among age groups. Generation Xers, age 31 to 47, turn to their TVs for 70% of their entertainment, while Millennials on the older end of their generation, age 25 to 30, consume only 53% of their media on the TV screen. Younger Millennials, age 14 to 24, tip the balance toward other devices, spending 56% of their entertainment time on laptops, smartphones, tablets, and Internet-connected video-gaming systems. 

Millennial Moms are no exception

Eighty-three percent of new moms are Millennials, placing them right in the middle of today’s shifting media landscape. The fact that they’re starting a family means they have even less time than their childless peers to watch TV. In fact, according to our research, they estimate that their television time has dropped 1.6 hours per day since having a baby. Despite that time crunch, Millennial moms still spend a lot of time online – a full hour more than Gen X moms each day. They’re mostly accessing the Internet on their smartphones, which allows them to fit small chunks of social media and entertainment into their busy days. 

Welcome to the Media Mashup

One of the reasons I like watching shows on my tablet is that I can multitask: keep an eye on my email, follow my Facebook feed, watch my Instagram and Pinterest accounts, and Google something at the same time. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to be able to sit in front of the TV without doing anything else, and my tablet is mine – I can stop whenever I want and resume right where I left off. A recent Harris poll confirms that distracted viewing is the new norm, with 63% of viewers engaging in online activities while they watch, 35% texting, and 30% reading a book, magazine, or newspaper.

The marketing opportunities are there – they’re just different 

Between shrinking television usage and increased distractions, not to mention a growing preference for streaming content, there are a lot of reasons television advertising is on the wane. Marketers who want to reach young moms while they’re consuming entertainment are better off aiming for their portable devices – particularly their smartphones. Nine out of 10 of the moms we surveyed said they notice ads on their smartphone, and 43% said they act on them immediately! And since multitasking is the order of the day, you know that your message can comfortably coexist alongside Mom’s other media without necessarily getting lost.

Clearly, these trends will become more and more important as the younger generation grows in spending power. Brands that pay attention to the changes and stay one step ahead will have more success in getting their message across to young moms. And that’s no spoiler – it’s just smart marketing.

5 comments about "Spoiler Alert: Millennials Watch TV Shows - Just Not On TV".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 8, 2014 at 4:23 p.m.

    I hope that someone tells Nielsen about this study as its findings, while directionally similar, still show that traditional TV is still the way that most"Millennials" watch TV, most of the time.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, August 9, 2014 at 2:12 a.m.

    Ed, any idea how Deloitte conducted this research? At least we know the fundamentals of how Nielsen go about their data.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 9, 2014 at 2:46 a.m.

    John, I believe that they asked their respondents to estimate what percent of their TV viewing time was spent on each platform. The trouble with this approach is that respondents are notoriously inaccurate when answering such questions, in contrast to Nielsen's more precise meterized set usage measurements.

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, August 9, 2014 at 3:44 a.m.

    Thanks Ed. So maybe the question should be whether Deloitte has looked at any ratings data ... or have I misinterpreted your subtlety?

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 9, 2014 at 4:13 p.m.

    To be fair, John, I think that the way Deloitte approached this is better than many studies of this type. At least they asked their respondents what percentage of their TV viewing time was allocated to each "platform". While you can't take the replies literally, you can certainly look at trends over time as the surveys are repeated and, within each study, at the demographic breakdowns. So, in this respect, it's true, as Deloitte found, that proportionately less time is being spent with traditional TV and that younger viewers are most likely to be the defectors. I'm reasonably sure that Deloitte is aware of the Nielsen findings and isn't necessarily challenging them.

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