Study: Young People Watch More Than 22 Hours of Online Video a Week

6 out of 10 prefer digital content to TV

A new study shows that watching content online instead of on TV is the new normal for young millennials and even younger Gen Zers.

Just how much digital video are they watching? The average survey taker viewed 11.3 hours of free online video (on sites like YouTube) and 10.8 hours of subscription video (on sites like Netflix) for a staggering total of 22 hours a week.

By comparison, that same survey group—1,350 people between the ages of 13 and 24—viewed an average 8.3 hours of scheduled linear TV content, according to the third annual Acumen Report. And of that, 6.4 hours happened online. While almost everyone surveyed said they watch digital content, a little more than half reported watching TV.

"Whether you're a marketer or a content creator, the results magnify the growing influence of these millennial consumers and further affirmation that traditional media is falling short with this audience," said Andy Tu, evp of marketing for Defy Media, an online video production house that commissioned the study.

The report also involved in-depth interviews with 18 pairs of friends, conducted by Hunter Qualitative Research and child psychologists at KnoWhy Research, to further understand the age groups' behaviors. The researchers used online surveys, analysis of social media behavior and in-person conversations.

Sixty-two percent of all respondents said they prefer to consume video content digitally. Overall, more young people said they like and relate to content on digital platforms than on TV. A little under 70 percent said they relax by watching digital content, as opposed to 47 percent who relied on television.

And to emphasize the importance of online influencers, 32 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds said they admire online talent more than traditional celebrities, and 69 percent of that group believed these digital stars could easily transition to TV and movies. But the older survey takers (between 18 and 24 years old) still valued TV and movie actors more than digital stars.

It's part of the reason why brands like SweeTarts have been interested in creating online video programming featuring digital influencers and traditional TV stars. On Monday, the candy brand debuted Get Roped In, a dating show featuring host Shay Mitchell of Pretty Little Liars and three popular YouTubers: Ryan Tellez of Defy Media's The Warp Zone, and Meghan Rienks and Catherine Valdes of Catrific.

Fans will compete to go on a group date with the YouTubers by completing challenges using SweeTarts Ropes candy. In addition to being featured on YouTube, the content will also be cut for Twitter and Tumblr.

Daniela Simpson, brand manager for SweeTarts, said it worked with Defy talent on the program because it was a way to connect the online and offline worlds. And it leaned on findings from the Acumen study to inform the dating program.

"Even though [Mitchell] is a traditional TV star, she has a massive social media following and an aggressive presence on Twitter," Simpson said. "All the folks from YouTube we partner with are savvy with social media. That's the key to authentically connect with that millennial audience." 

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