Context And Devices Shape Millennial TV Viewing Differences

There is interesting research today from Thinkbox, courtesy of youth specialists, Platypus. While  have always been one to caution against wild assumptions of how completely different millennials are from every other age group, there does appear to be a gap emerging with online video. It's nothing radically new, but the traditional 30-second tv ad spot and the millennial do appear to be headed -- at least partially -- in different directions.

The headline stating that nearly two-thirds of video consumption for 16- to-24-year-olds consists of live tv and streamed or broadcasters' catch-up tv services suggests that there is a consistency between millennials and other age groups -- the average for the UK is just over four-fifths of tv viewing being live, streamed or catch-up. However, there is something within these figures that catches the eye of advertisers. For millennials, only half of all video consumption is live tv, whereas with the average population it's around two-thirds. It's not a massive gap, but it does show how youth video consumption is moving away from live tv's traditional series of linear ad spots.

The research underscores that younger people have broadly the same opinion of tv advertising. As long as it's entertaining, funny and eye-catching, it will be consumed. The big difference, of course, is not that millennials are a different species. The truth is that they cannot get on the main tv screen while mum and dad or their flat mate watches "Downtown Abbey" or the big football game. So they're far more likely to be using smartphones and tablets and this obviously steers them toward replacing live tv with streaming services. In fact, the proportion of tv viewing on subscription VOD (Netflix, Amazon Prime etc) is double among millennials compared to the rest of the population. The same goes for broadcaster's VOD services (such as BBC iPlayer and All4) and also for YouTube consumption as well as watching DVDs.

Put simply, millennials are more likely to be outside the main television room engaging with apps that bring regular tv shows to their smartphone or tablet, as well as watching DVDs on a laptop. 

The implication for advertisers is not revolutionary because live tv easily remains young peoples' main way of consuming video. There is more of a leaning toward formats where ads are either not offered (Netflix) or easily avoided (catch up television), however. This has to mean that being a part of the entertainment or perhaps the sponsor of the show has to be the more effective means of maximising reach among millennials. 

This has long been the case, however, and it explains why just about every genre or individual show -- from the weather to ITV Drama -- has an ident with a sponsor's message. So it's not anything completely new, but rather a reaffirmation of where the industry is heading and how this direction will help keep it in touch with all age groups  and particularly millennials, who are likely to be watching on a smart screen of some sort where ads are easily avoided or sometimes not even offered.

So there's no cause for alarm, but just a need to acknowledge that millennials don't have as much access to the household's main set as older relatives or flatmates, and so video consumption is more skewed to smartphones and tablets. It's more an issue of context than a revelation that young people are turning away from traditional television advertising. 

1 comment about "Context And Devices Shape Millennial TV Viewing Differences".
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  1. Michael Greeson from TDG, June 17, 2015 at 12:46 p.m.

    This is the latest illustration of what TDG called in 2006 'quantum video consumption' -- context-driven viewing determine relative to the location of use, the type of device at hand, the networks available at that time, etc. The characterization as 'quantum' was intended to call out the high degrees of variability and the lack of a static behavioral model for contemporary video viewing.

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