Massive Changes in TV Viewing Habits

Millennials are streaming comedy; GenX prefers Movies or Drama Live; Boomers are watching the news live; all are seeking content in more places than ever before.

The Millennials – those born in the 80′s, 90′s, and early 2000′s – those who followed “Generation X” and are sometimes but less frequently called “Generation Y” – have vastly different TV viewing habits than the generations that preceded them.  Here’s an interesting article in the New York Post that talks about the latest Nielsen numbers regarding their TV viewing habits.

A new study from E-Poll Market Research, conducted on behalf ofNATPE||Content and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, provides a detailed insight on consumer attitudes toward television viewing. The study found that viewers who stream TV programs say they have more positive impressions of the quality and variety of TV content available to them, and are more willing to try a greater variety of programs.

CEA and NATPE commissioned the study to evaluate the TV content distribution landscape, explore the dynamics at play against the background of exploding consumer choices, and determine how consumers find TV content and view it across different platforms.

Commenting on the study, CEO President and CEO Gary Shapiro said “Our joint study confirms that consumers are increasingly embracing streaming as a means of discovering and viewing TV programming. As content distribution evolves, device manufacturers are launching a variety of innovations that deliver richer experiences and empower consumers with ‘anytime/anywhere’ access to their favorite television programs.”

Highlights from the study

Where are viewers going to find content?

  • Consumers seek out TV programming through many more outlets than in the past with 71% saying they have watched streamed full length TV programs in the past 6 months.  Top sources for full length TV programs include Netflix (40%), YouTube (26%), network websites (25%), sites that offer free programs (22%), and network or service provider apps (12%).  Nearly 2 in 10 (19%) have watched TV programs on VOD in past 6 months as well.


Who’s watching what?

  • Movies, Comedy and Drama are the top three TV program genres watched by viewers in broadband households. Significant differences exist among demographics in terms of preferred genres and how programs are accessed:
  • Comedy is the top genre watched regularly by Millennials (74% vs. 70% for Gen Xers, and 68% for Boomers).  Millennials are most likely to seek out comedy through streamed sources (57% first go to Netflix).
  • Gen Xers and Boomers are most likely to watch movies (76% and 75%, respectively) and Dramas (69% for both Gen Xers and Boomers vs. 59% for Millennials).  Gen Xers’ first source for viewing TV programming is Live TV (62%), followed by DVR (53%).
  • Boomers differ from all other groups with a high affinity for live programming including local news (76%) and to a lesser extent National News and Weather.  Live TV is by far the first choice for viewing TV among this group (77%).


How are viewers discovering content?

  • Viewers who stream programming rely more heavily on recommendations than in the past in both learning about and deciding which television programs to watch. In particular, word of mouth recommendations and data driven recommendations through SVOD services have risen in importance among Millennials in discovering and navigating content that they find relevant to themselves.
  • Word of mouth is of high importance in driving Millennials’ viewing decisions (77% say it is “very/somewhat important”) as well as Gen Xers (79%). Millennials often reference the combination of seeing advertising and then hearing friends discussing or family recommendations in their decision to watch.
  • Among Millennials, and SVOD subscribers in general, the “recommended for you feature” based on prior shows watched also stands out as an important source of new program information (52% “very/somewhat important” among Millennials and 56% for SVOD subscribers).
  • Content discovery behavior is driving sampling, loyalty and increased cross-promotional opportunities.  As viewers find out about new programming on their streaming services, they are driven to sample and watch new shows that they would otherwise never have seen or known about.
  • Nearly half of SVOD subscribers say they have found new programming through streaming that they thenGo On to watch on live TV (48%).
  • Over 7 in 10 viewers say networks they already watch are an important source of information about new programming. Cross promotion of programs among viewers of specific shows by content creators provides an easy way to capitalize on this behavior.
  • Discovery of content via word of mouth recommendations creates stronger loyalty among viewers of shows as the ability to discuss programs with friends and family who are also watching is considered an important part of the viewing experience.


How do viewers perceive the quality and variety of programming today?

  • Across all platforms and types of viewing, over half of the viewers surveyed (56%) say they are watching a greater variety of TV programming now than in the past, and this measure increases to 60% among Millennials.
  • SVOD subscribers are more positive than non-subscribers about program quality with 60% saying “there are more high quality programs available” (vs. 51% non-subscribers) and 70% say there is a “greater variety of programs than in the past” (vs. 63% of non-subscribers).
  • SVOD subscribers also say that they have increased their viewing of TV shows as a result of being able to stream (66%). In addition, the ability to “binge view” programs and “catch up” on episodes of programs can fuel greater loyalty to programs and keep viewers watching in the future.



Consumer Electronics Association

E-Poll market Research