Netflix is available to about half of U.S. TV homes, and is considered by some to be the destroyer of traditional or linear TV among younger viewers; however remember that a typical adult devotes only 20-25 minutes per day to Netflix content, while Millennials, who are lighter TV viewers anyway, don’t really exceed this level by much.
So, what do Millennials watch? Media Dynamics recently shared results of a research study by YouGov who asked Millennials about TV networks, and not surprisingly, Netflix came out on top, with 84% of Millennials citing it as “most popular.” However, many “pay TV” networks also made the cut with Millennials; as shown in Table I, Animal Planet, Nickelodeon, the National Geographic Channel and Cartoon Network rounded out the top five most popular networks, while Discovery, ABC, FX, the Weather Channel, Comedy Central, Fox and others also scored well. As a point of comparison, this has been compared to Baby Boomers viewing, and while they were even more inclined to favor pay TV networks, Netflix still ranked 10th among the Boomer viewing audience.
Even more revealing were the study’s findings on the most popular television programs among Millennials and Boomers. After all, people watch shows and not networks or channels. High profiled shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead failed to make the top 20 among Millennials, who instead rated shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, Ellen, The Big Bang Theory and even Law & Order: SVU as being more popular. As for Boomers, mostly games shows, Law and Order and PBS shows made up the top 20.
Please note that studies like this one asking for “favorites” do not necessarily sync up with much more precise, captured ratings of specific shows on an episode-by-episode basis. For example, both Millennials and Boomers had several game shows in their top ranks, but shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune draw very small 18-34-year-old audiences relative to older adults. It is possible that the high rankings of these shows among Millennials is due to their on-air longevity, and the respondents’ cumulative history of occasional viewing and general familiarity with the programs, rather than the likelihood of watching on a given day.
As for the other popular Millennial shows, it is interesting that a significant number of pay TV programs found a place on their top 20 list, although the means of accessing many may very well have been through streaming. Nevertheless, it appears that Nielsen’s repeated finding that Millennials – despite reducing their linear TV consumption over the past decade – still watch pay TV as often as they stream content. Consequently, advertisers can still reach Millennials via pay TV after all.
It should be noted that the study measured specific shows and did not include news and sports programming – shows like this also reach Millennials and contribute to their linear TV viewing.
Source: Media Dynamics, Inc., October, 2019