Commentary

Comedy Consumption When Nobody Feels Like Laughing

The media reporting on the generational divide during COVID-19 has cast behaviors and opinions of boomers, millennials, and Gen Z in a stark light. From reports of irreverent spring breakers to reports of boomers feeling less concerned about the virus than their younger counterparts, these differences are driving headlines.

But, across these groups, media consumption is up — and comedy, in particular, has always been an outlet for all ages to turn to during challenging times. Because of this, we dug into trends around comedy across generations and what they mean for brands who want to connect with customers.

Why Everyone Is Turning To Their Feeds Like Gen Z
When asked to choose between funny antics and real situations (like social memes) or scripted sitcoms and shows, millennials prefer the comedy of scripted sitcoms and shows, while Gen Z prefers the comedy of funny antics and real situations from their feeds.

This is no surprise when you consider Gen Z’s media preferences: 69% of them agree streaming and social platforms make better content than TV channels. But given the uncertainty of COVID-19 and how it's impacting the entertainment industry at large, more generations might be seeking comedy from their feeds like Gen Z.

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SVOD services like Disney+ and Netflix, which will likely see a short-term increase in subscribers due to social distancing, have halted production of their scripted and original series. According to Variety, Amazon has paused original series in production, Netflix has shut down all scripted films in the U.S., and Disney has put pilots on production hiatus. I anticipate as subscribers of these platforms finish the most appealing original series and premium content, the lack of new options will push older viewers to follow Gen Z to find funny in the feed.

Another trend that could impact where comedy is sought after is how quarantined Gen Z kids will also influence older relatives to new platforms that they prefer. TikTok and Twitch, the two social platforms that had the greatest percentage of U.S. viewers watching with friends before the COVID-19 pandemic, will be seen by increasingly older audiences as Gen Z-ers watch with their families.  

Why Casual Comedy Consumption Will Be On The Rise
People will increasingly turn to humor as their genre of choice because of how casually it can be consumed, even with partial focus. 81% of 13- to 34-year-olds believe humorous videos are easy to watch in the background while doing other things, 25% higher than educational videos.

Most importantly, comedy provides young people with emotional support. We found 92% of 13- to 34-year-olds agree that watching funny videos helps improve their mood. As young people rely on comedy for emotional support more than ever, there is an opportunity for publishers and brands to deeply connect with them in ways that will stick with them for years beyond COVID-19.

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