nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Will millennials return to TV as they age?

OTTtv World Summit Content Delivery World

Millennial TV watching is in serious decline as the young move toward online video consumption. Are they gone for good, or as they age will they return to linear television?

At the OTT TV World Summit in London, I moderated a discussion entitled Looking at Different Ways to Monetise the Millennials. Part way through the discussion I asked the panelists if they thought the millennials that have left the traditional television model behind would eventually come back. There was far from consensus in the answers I got.

They won’t come back

Two of the panelists were sure that the 18 to 34-year-olds that have left traditional TV would not come back. Tim Horan, Senior Content Adviser with Altibox AS, was first to answer:

tim Horan, Altibox AS

Tim Horan, Altibox AS

“I’m a strong believer that these people will not come back as traditional TV viewers. They’ve got used to this new way of viewing with OTT.  We’ve got an app world where it’s basically a portal where the apps can bring you anywhere. I think people are going to be watching their apps, people are going to be watching on their different devices.”

Evan Manolis, Director Product Marketing – TV, Mobile Video and Content, Optus, strongly agreed with Mr. Horan. He had spoken earlier about how appealing the value proposition of targeted SVOD services are to millennials. By way of example, he discussed the value of reality show SVOD service HayU in Australia (his home market):

Evan Manolis, Optus

Evan Manolis, Optus

“When you can watch Real Housewives and the Kardashians just hours after it is broadcast in the US, for $4.99 a month versus a $100 a month via another provider you’ve got a good monetization model.”

Earlier in the discussion, John Dollin, Senior Systems & Operations Manager with Arsenal Football Club, had illustrated how much of a barrier price can be for millennial users. Arsenal launched a fan app with a suite of content and attempted to get people to subscribe to it. The approach didn’t work.

“We used to be a subscription service, and had about 80K subscribers. We decided to drop that and offer it for free with a registration. About 5M people have gone through that process.”

They never left

Adam Davies, Product Manager at Cisco, disagreed and wouldn’t even concede that many millennials have left television behind.

Adam Davies, Cisco

Adam Davies, Cisco

“I disagree with both <Mr. Horan and Mr. Manolis.> TV isn’t going anywhere. Millennials have changed viewing habits, they brought in binge viewing. But the vast majority, 90%, is still watched live. Broadcasters are fighting back with more must-see TV. They’re creating more social buzz around TV. It’s the idea of missing out. You can’t miss out on what happened on X-Factor or Strictly <Ballroom> because it’s going to be all over social media. So, you need to watch it with an element of immediacy.”

It’s the wrong question

John Dollin, Senior Systems & Operations Manager with Arsenal Football Club, didn’t think I had asked the right question.

John Dollin, Arsenal Football Club

John Dollin, Arsenal Football Club

“I think they’re both right, and they’re both wrong. Kids don’t care whether it’s come over satellite or if it’s come over IP, it’s just content to them.  I think we have to get out of that mode of thinking it’s over satellite or OTT, and just think about it as content and how it’s going to be delivered.”

Certainly, from the point of view of the millennials, Mr. Dollin is correct. However, the differing answers of the other panelists illustrate the industry is far from agreeing with his answer.

Why it matters

Millennials are migrating away from watching traditional television to new digital platforms.

There is disagreement as to whether they will stay away as they age.

Some think the convenience of aggregated, integrated pay TV services will eventually win them back.

Others think their expectations of video services have changed so much they will never return.

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(2) Comments

  1. The problem is providers will NOT allow a-la-carte.
    MILLIONS of Viewers will NOT pay for stations they do NOT watch.
    “Sports” is the KILLER. EXTREMELY HIGH Prices, and MILLIONS of Viewers who do NOT watch “Sports”.
    Put “ALL sports” in a separate group.
    The regular channels are kinda cheap and viewers don’t worry, much, about their cheap prices.
    Butt stop providers from raising prices, or the deal is over.
    They are the Basic channels most people watch. Networks, and the fun channels are what keep viewers.
    Viewers want a choice if they pay. Movie channels, or Sports. NOT Shoved down their throat.

  2. Compact or consolidate advertising, continue to improve the quality and flexibility of the devices upon which content is watched.
    This is the largest generation ever. Try applying a “sell more charge less” philosophy. Blasphemous, I know, but has always been successful.
    Always allow fast forwarding on previously aired programs. Remember the effectiveness of subliminal advertising? Ten seconds of fast forwarding an Ad is an Ad watched, and avoids the resentment they feel of the confiscatory nature of media. Make it easy to be smart in this regard.

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