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:
“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):
“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.
“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.
“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.