Millennials Are Not Cord-Cutting, They're Just Tuning In On Laptops

It's always easy to say that the youth are rejecting television of old in favour of snacking on YouTube clips. Instead of turning on the big screen in the living room that displays programmes largely according to when the broadcaster pumps them out, the youth are clearly opting for a different approach of favouring the laptop. However, it's refreshing to see GfK remind the public that this means a lot less than it might appear to.

Its figures show that while the average adult watches nearly two-thirds (65%) of their video entertainment on a conventional set, 18- to-24-year-olds watch just over a third (35%). Thus, the laptop accounts for 40% of video consumption among 18- to-24-year-olds, roughly double the proportion of the average adult.

It's here that you might expect a digital marketing guru to extol the virtues of video-sharing sites, social TV and online video in general. However, it appears that these young Millennials are actually spending three-quarters of their time watching television shows and movies. In fact, this is higher than the average for the entire adult population of two-thirds of video consumption, whether on laptop or tv, being devoted to traditional television and movies. 

It's refreshing to get some research which shows that despite what digital gurus might say, the youth are not a separate "tribe" who have cut the cord and now watch tv on smart devices away from the living room. The point GfK is keen to make is that television ownership is lower for this age group, so the laptop is the most convenient choice. When you think about it, most people in this age group are either living at home, in student accommodation or renting their first flat with friends, and so are unlike to have full control of a television set in a living room. 

So it's not necessarily what they're watching but rather the device that separates the youth, and it's here that marketers should start to get excited. If you bear in mind that two thirds of youth video consumption will be on a laptop, tablet or smartphone, that has to bring with it better targeting opportunities, doesn't it? Not only is the person more likely to be watching on their own but they're undoubtedly signed in to a service which reveals their identity. It puts them in a digital marketer's dream spot of a viewer being primed for second screening and the implications for PPC or display kicking in as your television advert airs has to be huge, doesn't it?

The young aren't doing anything incredibly different -- just watching more video than the average adult and doing so on their laptop and other mobile devices. As they do this, though, marketers should start to get very excited about the targeted opportunities this provides to reach a demographic notorious for ad blocking.

1 comment about "Millennials Are Not Cord-Cutting, They're Just Tuning In On Laptops".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 28, 2016 at 9:35 a.m.

    Percentages such as those you cite, Sean, can be a little misleading. If you take all forms of "linear TV" content, and compare the total consumption of said content by age, you will find that the average adult aged 18-34---is by far TV's least frequent viewer. So, if your typical 18-43-year-old sees , say 25 hours of TV content per week and 40% of this is on laptops, using your GFK findings---that amounts to 10 hours per week of laptop exposure. On the other hand, if your typical 65-year-old devotes 55 hours per week to "linear TV" content and only 18% of this is via laptop, that, too, would equal 10 hours per week of viewing. What Nielsen is actually reporting is that while digital TV/video consumption is clearly---and not surprisingly---slanted towards younger adults rather than their older counterparts, in terms of volume of exposure, plain ordinary TV sets still account for over 80% of all viewing time while three digital "platforms"---smartphones, tablets as well as PCs, together--- draw only 15-16% and that's for millennials only.

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