Netflix, Cable Battle for Millennials' Attention - eMarketer
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Netflix, Cable Battle for Millennials' Attention

Over 60% of millennials' time spent with TV is timeshifted

Millennials are big on consuming TV shows and videos at their preferred time and on their devices of choice, and they overindex for timeshifted viewing as a result.

Share of Time Spent Watching Live vs. Timeshifted TV Among US TV Viewers, by Generation, Feb 2015 (% of respondents in each group)

According to HUB Research polling conducted in February 2015, 61% of US millennials’ time spent watching TV was timeshifted, vs. less than 40% spent viewing live content. In comparison, timeshifted and live viewing were relatively even among on the general population, though timeshifting did grab a slightly larger share.

The trend in timeshifting and on-demand consumption among millennials has two big channels competing for the audience: cable TV and Netflix. According to October 2014 research by Millward Brown Digital, usage of cable TV and Netflix to watch TV or digital video content was nearly even among US millennial smartphone and tablet users, both at just over 50%. These were the second and third most popular choices, behind YouTube, which is often used to view shorter content. DVR, the traditional form of on-demand viewing, and network TV trailed further.

Channels Used to Watch TV or Digital Video Content Among US Smartphone/Tablet Users, by Generation, Oct 2014 (% of respondents in each group)

HUB Research looked at the reasons millennials chose to timeshift and found that being able to watch at a time that was convenient was the most popular reason for watching shows later (58% of respondents). Nearly four in 10 said they did so to catch up with missed episodes, while around one-third liked the fact that they could pause and rewind or watch episodes not available during live viewing. Skipping ads and saving time were of less concern, each cited by just under three in 10.

Millennials have the luxury of watching on-demand content across many devices, too, based on data released in January 2015 by Forrester Research. This was especially true among US internet users ages 25 to 34, who owned 4.0 connected devices on average, vs. an average of 3.3 among all adults. Younger millennials ages 18 to 24—called Gen Z by Forrester—also overindexed, owning 3.6 connected devices on average.

As connected devices reshape millennials’ TV and video viewing preferences, marketers must take a no-channel-left-behind approach when targeting the demographic.

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