Analysis: Younger Viewers Watch More Modern Formats, Traditional Platforms Must Keep Pace
The entertainment business has had a rough few years and viewing trends continue to evolve. According to a recent Variety Intelligence Platform survey, there is a distinct generational gap between viewing audiences, with the younger demographic getting its media from a much broader spectrum of sources in comparison to older consumers. With traditional broadcast and linear models falling to the wayside, entertainment companies need to adjust their marketing strategies to take advantage of a less focused audience.
The Variety report found that viewers ages 15-29 are aiming their eyes on multiple platforms, with subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD) and social media services taking seven of the top ten spots in the most watched platforms list. Topping the charts are Netflix, Instagram, and Facebook, with the other contending streamers Hulu and Disney+ a bit lower on the list. Traditional media sources are nowhere to be seen, and the closest thing to “live news” or broadcast TV is YouTube. With TikTok following right behind, it appears that short-form content is the go-to for the demographic’s entertainment.
Conversely, in the 45-59 demographic, Facebook ranked number one with Netflix taking the second spot. However, the Big Four broadcasters (ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX) rounded out the top six, making traditional stations key to reaching this age group. The demographic literally tuned in to FM radio for their music selections, indicating that linear media is still a valued commodity especially as sporting events dominate those platforms. Prime Video and Hulu were the only other streamers to make the grade.
data provided by GETWIZER via Variety
Looking at the spectrum of options that each demographic turns to for entertainment, it’s clear that younger generations are not as narrow in their choices of platforms. While viewers in the 15-29 age group surf 21.1 different services in a given week, the amount for the 45 and older crowd drops dramatically. This makes things difficult for advertisers as they can no longer rely on just one or two avenues for their marketing strategy. Conversely, if businesses try and cover every platform that the younger demographics gravitate toward, they risk spreading themselves too thin.
One example is the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards. The primary broadcast for the event happened on the MTV cable channel, a station not easily accessible by its more youthful audience. Instead of relying on traditional linear TV models such as cable and satellite, it might behoove MTV to try streaming on TikTok or YouTube since their viewers are already keyed into those virtual venues. The ceremony is available to stream on Paramount+, but that is not one of the premiere services that the younger demo flocks to.
Conversely, sports still hold tight to broadcasting models, with in-market games becoming the Achilles' heel of the streaming market. While it’s doubtful that more youthful demographics will eschew their favorite teams altogether simply because it doesn’t stream on YouTube, the sports industry may need to rethink how it handles streaming its product. Currently, the best ways to watch most sports involve expensive cable or satellite packages or via a live TV streaming service that mirrors the cable experience, while services such as ESPN+ and DAZN have their own sports lineup, but often do not cover the biggest games and events.
As the entertainment industry continues to change, marketing strategies have to evolve with them. The younger demographic is phasing out broadcast TV, and advertisers will have to find new ways to take advantage of short-form content and use those platforms as leverage to tap into viewers disinterested in Traditional Media.