The TV is Far From Being Youths’ Primary Medium for Entertainment

August 28, 2019

Although half of US adults report watching online video daily, this number jumps considerably when looking at younger adults. A recent study [download page] by Manatt-Vorhaus reveals that two-thirds (67%) of younger US adults (ages 18-34) say they watch online video daily, with the majority (72%) saying they watch videos on their smartphone at least once a week.

The disparity in online video viewing is just one way in which younger adults differ from the adult population at-large. While overall, some 43% of the more than 2,000 adults surveyed say that TV is their primary medium for entertainment, younger adults are most likely to report that smartphones (29%) are the principal device they use when seeking entertainment, with the television set (19%) getting an even smaller share than using a laptop or PC (21%).

The fact that smartphones are the dominant medium for entertainment for younger Americans isn’t too surprising considering that Pew Research Institute has found that smartphone ownership has reached near-total penetration for younger US adults, with many using their smartphones as their go-to device to get online. Added to that, earlier this year Nielsen data showed that US 18-34-year-olds spent an hour more per day using the internet or apps on their smartphones than they did watching traditional TV.

More Entertainment Options Become Available

In what is likely to add to the worries of pay-TV providers, more than one-quarter of 18-34-year-olds say they are either extremely (14%) or somewhat likely (14%) to cancel their pay-TV subscription in the next 12 months. One reason that adults, particularly younger adults, are turning away from traditional TV is that there are just more options for viewing available, much of which is available through the internet. This is evident with recent data from Comscore revealing that a full two-thirds (66%) of US households with WiFi are now streaming OTT content.

More than two-fifths (44%) of pay-TV subscribers who are planning to cut the cord in the next year say they will use other services such as Netflix or Hulu. Indeed, 24% say they are satisfied with these types of online streaming options, while 21% say they can watch the TV shows and movies they like on the internet in lieu of pay-TV.

It should be noted that not everyone is cutting the cord. In fact, there is a segment of the population that never had a cord to sever but is now considering subscribing to pay-TV. GfK found that just more than one-quarter (27%) of so-called ‘cord-nevers’ are considering signing up.

Three-Quarters of Users Subscribe to SVOD

SVOD services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video continue to see their subscriber numbers increase, although, at least for Netflix, not as quickly as they had forecast.

Not surprisingly, Netflix is the most popular SVOD service among the Manatt/Vorhaus survey respondents, with 59% saying they subscribe to the service. That’s followed by the other leading platforms Amazon Prime Video (41%) and Hulu (32%). Furthermore, subscribers are open to adding more services, with respondents saying they would add an average of 1.6 paid SVOD services on top of what they already have.

The study also found that more than half (53%) of SVOD is viewed on internet-connected TV. However, respondents spread their broader online video viewing across connected TV (36%), computer (28%), smartphone (23%) and tablet (13%) somewhat more evenly.

You can find the full report here.

About the Data: The report is based on responses to an online survey of 2,007 US online users, 18 years old and older. The sample was matched to the US Census for age, gender and race.

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