Given the downward trends in pay-TV subscribers and the surge in popularity of short-form online video and gaming among younger consumers in particular, a new survey confirming that Gen Z spends far less time consuming traditional television than older generations isn't likely to come as a shock to either advertisers or media owners.
But the extent of Gen Z's behavioral differences with older groups as illustrated by these self-reported behaviors is pretty attention-getting.
Hub Research surveyed 1,900 U.S. consumers between 13 and 74, including 579 consumers between 13 and 24, in December 2022.
“Gen Z is just as passionate about entertainment as their Gen X parents and Boomer grandparents, but they are content omnivores, and TV is just one of a constellation of things competing for their attention,” sums up Jon Giegengack, founder and principal at Hub. “Most importantly: So far, there’s no reason to think they’ll outgrow their attachment to short-form video or gaming as they get older.”
Those over 35 estimate that they spend more than double the time on TV shows that Gen Z does. And Gen Z respondents spend more time on gaming (22%) and non-premium videos on platforms like TikTok and YouTube (21%) than they do watching traditional TV (17%) or video-on-demand movies (14%).
More than half of Gen Z viewers say they watch less “regular” TV because of the time they spend watching non-premium video.
Across age groups, the average time spent consuming video via MVPD boxes continues to fall and time on smart TVs and smartphones continues to rise, jibing with the acceleration of cord cutting.
But the age behavior gap is pronounced here, as well. Gen Z consumers spend about a fifth of their screen time watching through apps on a smart TV — the same as older consumers. But just 8% of Gen Zs’ time goes to watching shows through a cable box, compared to 31% among older viewers. Gen Zs also spend more time watching on their cell phones than on any other screen.
Looking at social video platforms, the survey also confirms that relatively new TikTok has eclipsed even YouTube in self-reported time spent viewing.
Among Gen Z consumers who use both platforms, 54% say they spend more time on TikTok, including 40% who spend “a lot more time” on TikTok. Further, 73% say that if they could only use one, they’d keep TikTok.