Cable TV’s in the Rearview Mirror for Teens, as YouTube Gains Greater Prominence

October 31, 2018

Teens continue to say they’re gravitating away from cable TV as a part of their daily video diet, according to the latest semi-annual teen survey from Piper Jaffray. The 8,600 teens surveyed estimated spending less than one-sixth (16%) of their daily video time watching cable TV, down from 23% a year earlier.

The results are reflective of broader cable TV viewer demographic trends. MarketingCharts’ Media Audience Demographics Study 2017 found that 39.1% of cable TV’s weekly adult audience is aged 55 and older, a gradual increase from 37.2% a couple of years earlier.

Meanwhile, older Americans continue to watch far more traditional TV than their younger counterparts: in the second quarter of 2017, for example (the most recent data available for teens), Nielsen reported that 12-17-year-olds watched 11 hours and 47 minutes of traditional TV per week, less than one-quarter of the more than 48 hours watched by Americans ages 65 and up.

Cable TV’s place for teens has been taken by digital video and streaming options, of course. Netflix remains their top destination, occupying an average 38% of their daily video viewing time, consistent with the past couple of years. The streaming platform is a hit with youth, earning the top word-of-mouth with Millennials in the US this year, and being named their most relevant brand overall. In fact, for youth, watching TV now means turning to Netflix first before any other source of programming.

YouTube is also a key part of teens’ daily habits. Fully 85% of teens in the US watch YouTube, and it is a close second to Snapchat as their most-used social media platform. In Piper Jaffray’s study, YouTube now occupies one-third (33%) of teens’ daily video time, with that share steadily rising over the past 3 years, from 21% in the Fall of 2015.

Together, Netflix and YouTube combine for an estimated 71% of teens’ daily video time, the largest combined share for these two platforms in the survey’s history. In particular, it’s YouTube that is cannibalizing time from cable TV, even as Netflix remains dominant.

Teens’ Favorite Brands

The survey also reveals some top-ranking brands in different verticals for teens, defined as the percentage share of respondents who identify the brand as their favorite in each category. The following highlights some of these top brands, along with the share of teens who named it their favorite.

  • Clothing: Nike (22%);
  • Handbag: Michael Kors (30%);
  • Footwear: Nike (41%);
  • Shopping Website: Amazon (47%);
  • Beauty: Sephora / Ulta (each 34%);
  • Cosmetics: Tarte (13%); and
  • Restaurant: Chick-fil-A.

Why do the top brands matter? Fully 45% of teens report that “brand” is the most important factor for them in making a purchase, up from one-third 6 years ago.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 8,600 teens across 47 U.S. states with an average age of 15.9. Some 56% of respondents are male, and the sample has an average household income of $68,300.

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