This just in: Millennials are not all the same.
When it comes to TV viewing, that’s particularly true, according to a new report released Thursday by research and ratings juggernaut Nielsen.
As you would expect, Nielsen’s report indicates there’s a wide gulf in TV-watching behavior between the 18-24 and 25-34 age ranges: The younger group watches 18 hours and 30 minutes per week of live or DVR’d TV; the older group squeezes in 26 hours and 19 minutes per week.
(For comparison outside the Millennial generation, the 35-49 demo watches 35 hours and 39 minutes of live or DVR’d TV a week.)
Bear in mind that more than 50 percent of those in the 18-24 age range live with parents or some other guardian-type figure, according to U.S. Census data. These are the people most likely to be out and about during peak TV-viewing hours and the least likely to have control over what entertainment options are available in the home.
But life stages don’t always fall neatly within certain age brackets, and so Nielsen’s researchers decided to divvy up the broad 18-34 group into different categories based on what life stage this millennial cohort is in, rather than ages: those living on their own, those who are still considered dependents, and those starting families.
When Nielsen sliced its data that way, researchers found stark differences in how millennials watch TV: 78 percent of those living on their own subscribe to at least one streaming service. That percentage dips to 58 percent if you look at those starting families, who also watch almost an hour more of TV a day.
And, in some perhaps encouraging news for pay TV providers, millennials starting families are more likely to have a pay TV subscription than those living on their own. About 72 percent of those living on their own had a pay-TV bundle; 79 percent of those starting families had one.
This is primarily a function of having kids, says Glenn Enoch, Nielsen’s SVP of Audience Insights. “For every age group, and for every income group, households with more children are more likely to have a multichannel subscription,” he adds. “So much children’s content is on cable networks.”
So it might take some time, waiting for more millennials to start procreating, but if providers can make accessing kids’ shows as easy as it is for streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime (both of which have exponentially ramped up the amount of kid-friendly content), they’ve got a fighting chance.
There’s always been something a little strange about ascribing viewing habits to large swaths of people, particularly in an age range like 18-34, in which young adults experience most of their life changes. Saying “Millennials don’t watch TV” is a bit like saying “Football players don’t get concussed.” Maybe those in pop warner don’t take too many shots to the noggin, but as they get older, the rules of the game and their behavior change.