Millenials (14-25 year olds) watch less TV, more streaming video but respond to physical media

Deloitte has just completed a very large study of consumers between 13 and 75 years of age and have found out some fairly surprising statistics. They will officially release the results of their third annual “State of the Media Democracy” report the first week of January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The majority of the study’s impact revolves around how Millenials (14-25 year olds) are consuming media and responding to advertising. Most surprisingly, they’re not watching as much TV as older generations. In truth, they’re watching a lot of TV, just not on their TVs.

But why? Of course there are the obvious reasons, online viewing is more convenient for busier lives, DVRs, DVDs, TiVO, etc. are able to allow content to be viewed on demand. But I think there are better reasons this marketing shift is occurring. With the economy tightening budgets, perhaps younger people are not as inclined to pay $50+ per month for TV. I think one of the main reasons is TV programming itself. The best and most popular programming on TV today like Lost and 30 Rock are better when you watch episodes by Netflixing them in sequence on DVD or watching them online on Hulu.

Content viewership is important, but how this new generation is responding to advertising?

Today’s youth are spending less time watching TV but way more time with media overall if you factor-in video games, music and the Internet. Let’s break down this information a little:

  • Millennial generation (14-25) watches an average of just 10.5 hours of TV a week
  • Generation X (26-42) watches an average of just 15.1 hours of TV a week
  • Baby Boomers (33-61) watch 19.2 hours
  • Matures (62-75) watch the most at 21.5 hours per week
  • Word of mouth is the most common reason for Millennials to visit a Web site, followed by an ad on television. Almost half (48 percent) visit television Web sites in a typical week.
  • When they find a particular television show or Web site they enjoy, they tell an average of 18 people, compared with only 10 people for all age groups.

So what exactly are Millennials watching online? TV programming. YouTube counts for a lot of searches and demand but that doesn’t convert directly into influencing purchase patterns. ScreenDigest, the pre-eminent firm of industry analysts that has been covering global media markets for over 30 years has put together some projections on the future of advertising and television and put them together in a webinar titled “The Economics of Free.”

  • Premium original content, not user-generated video is where the bulk of revenues comes from
  • By 2011 ad-funded free-to-view TV shows will account for 10 times more consumption than paid content
  • By 2012 premium TV content, such as Hulu, is projected to have 10 percent more consumers than amateur user-generated content.

On closer inspection, Deloitte’s study pulls the thread to unravel some current wisdom

High Demand for User-Generated Content

  • 40 percent of all survey respondents are making their own entertainment (editing movies, music and photos)
    • 25 percent of Matures
    • 56 percent of all Millennials; leading Millennials (18–24) participate more
  • More than one in 10 Millennials are actively uploading their own videos on the Internet
  • 51 percent of all survey respondents are watching/reading content created by others
  • 71 percent of Millennials watch/read content created by others; 56 percent of Xers do; Boomers/Matures participate less, but participation is noteworthy
  • 53 percent of Millennials would download more videos if connection speeds were faster
  • One-third of online content viewing is done on user-generated sites
    • Almost ¼ for Matures, ½ for Millennials

Long Live Traditional Media!

  • Favorite and promising new television shows beat the Web as the most frequent media conversation topics for all generations
    • Extensive amplification with the Millennials as they tell the most people about what they like
    • 52 percent of Xers are visiting television show Internet sites
  • Printed magazines are an integral part of every generation’s life
    • 72 percent enjoy reading magazines over finding the same information online
    • 58 percent of Millennials agree magazines help them learn about what’s “in”
  • Compared with online activities like surfing the Web and downloading music, all generations aspire to reading a book in the coming year

Advertising Insights

  • 64 percent tend to pay greater attention to print ads in magazines or newspapers than advertising on the Internet
  • More than one-in-four would pay for online content vs. being exposed to ads
  • Search engines and word of mouth are the most effective means for driving Web site traffic — 85 percent of Xers are influenced by someone’s recommendation
  • 87 percent of respondents continually visit the same Web sites
  • Generation Xers are a little more responsive to advertising

Future Products
Millennials are leading the way as far as embracing new technologies, games, entertainment platforms, user-generated content and communication tools:

  • 64 percent want to easily connect their television to the Internet for viewing videos and downloading content to their television
  • 60 percent want the ability to move their content to any device they own without any problems
  • 57 percent want an entertainment and communication device that lets them do everything

TV still dominates, print remains highly influential

Deloitte’s study finds that TV remains, by far, the most influential advertising medium, followed by magazines, the Internet, newspapers, radio and billboards. 64 percent pay more attention to printed advertising than online. Social networking sites are considered separate, and they are the seventh-most influential place to advertise, followed by in-theater ads, DVDs, blogs (also, distinct from the Internet), video games, mobile phones and virtual worlds. For the complete details, we’ll have to wait for January 6, 2009 when Deloitte releases their final findings in a “Super Session” at CES.


  1. Mary
    December 30, 2008

    Great article. It’s always interesting to see how different mediums add up in the advertising world! I definitely agree that “Millennials” want a device that does it all and is easy to use! Probably why I asked for Apple TV for Christmas!

  2. Leanne
    December 30, 2008

    This is very interesting. I’m not surprised by most of the findings except for the magazine advertising. I guess I am just not that into magazines but I didn’t expect them to be so high on the list. But I can see how so many “Millennials” watch stuff on YouTube and sites like Hulu because it’s what you want when you want. It’s all about convenience!