nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Television increasingly irrelevant to generation Z

Gen-Z TV viewing

Television is struggling to remain relevant to the youngest viewers. They have grown up with their smartphone in hand. It is only natural for them to watch most of their video through the device as well.

Gen-Z kids love their smartphones

Google and Ipsos say that 13-17-year-olds received their first phone far earlier than previous generations. Older millennials (25-30-year-old) received their first mobile phone on average at age 20. Younger millennials (18-24-year-old) got a phone at age 16, and Gen-Z at age 12.

Of all the connected devices Gen-Z users have access to, the smartphone is by far the most used. 78% say they use it the most, 69% say a laptop computer, 68% a TV, and 62% the games console. However, the fact that the TV is number three with this group shouldn’t be misinterpreted. The Wildness asked Gen-Z kids if they could keep just one screen, which would it be. None of the participants in its survey said they would keep the TV.

Video usage among Gen-Z viewers

Nielsen provides further evidence that Generation Z kids do not engage with the TV like older groups. The company reports that TV viewing (live and DVR) among Gen-Z kids fell 11.4% between Q4 2015 and Q4 2016. The average Gen-Z viewer watches just 1 hour and 59 minutes of TV per day. As recently as Q4 2012, the same age group watched 3 hours and 18 minutes. In other words, one hour and 19 minutes per day of TV viewing has Gen-Z smartphone usage by applicationvanished over the last 4 years.

By comparison, Generation Z parents watched twice as much television (4 hours and 22 minutes per day) in Q4 2016. Older millennials watched 3 hours and 9 minutes per day.

A lot of that missing 1 hour 19 minutes of viewing has transferred to mobile. Smartphone usage among Gen-Z is dominated by video. 71% claim to spend 3 hours or more per day watching TV, movies, and videos online on their smartphone every day. The second most popular activity is texting, with 52% saying they spend 3 hours a day in messaging apps. Others activity absorbing 3 or more hours a day include social networking (51%) and playing games (42%.)

Video is not a one-way street

Margaret Czeisler, Chief Strategy Office for Wildness at AwesomenessTV, says a defining difference between gen-Z and other generations is that many define themselves as content creators, not just as consumers.  80% say that expressing themselves creatively is important to them, and many share the fruits of their creative efforts with others. 25% said they post original videos at least once week, while just 26% of adults say they have ever posted a video. Their creativity is not restricted to video. 20% post their original essays and poems, and 65% enjoy creating and sharing content while on social media.

Why it matters

For many of the youngest video viewer’s television is simply out-of-step with their way of life.

They have grown up with smartphone in hand, and it has become their window on the world.

It is only natural for them to use it for video viewing


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