Gen Z Spends More Time on YouTube Than Netflix, Survey Shows

Cable TV represents just 12% of teens' daily video consumption

Gen Z inside a laptop screen pointing at Youtube Logo
Respondents were 9,500 teens, with an average age of 15.8. Illustration: Trent Joaquin; Source: Unsplash
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

Teens are spending more time during the day streaming videos on YouTube than on Netflix, according to a new report from financial services firm Piper Jaffray.

The report, which resulted from suveying 9,500 teens from 42 states, found that 37% of teens’ daily video consumption was spent on YouTube, compared to 35% of daily video consumption on Netflix. Hulu received 7% of Gen Z’s daily video consumption, and 3% went to Amazon Prime Video.

Survey respondents spent 12% of their daily video consumption on cable television.

Among social media sites, Instagram was the platform most frequented by teens, followed by Snapchat. This marks the third survey in a row in which Instagram came out on top among Gen Z users.

The survey respondents were skewed slightly male (compared to 45% female and 2% nonbinary) and had an average age of 15.8.

The results highlight the popularity of YouTube among young people, and they underscore the challenge streaming services face to make inroads with younger consumers. Not only do they have to compete with rival services, but they are also pitted against user-generated video platforms.

YouTube is primarily made up of user-generated content, and, on the survey, three YouTube personalities—David Dobrik, PewDiePie and Emma Chamberlain—were among the top five influencers among teens surveyed. But the platform also investing in creating original programming, some of which feature popular YouTube creators, that is both available to watch free with ads during limited windows or ad-free through YouTube’s subscription video service, YouTube Premium.

Netflix has for years had streaming rights to popular teen programming favorites like The Office and Friends, but it will be losing both of those series to NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, respectively. The service has also invested in original programming like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Trinkets in an effort to appeal to the audience.

Upcoming streaming services, meanwhile, are also developing programming aimed at attracting younger viewers. HBO Max this week greenlit two more seasons of the dark comedy Search Party, which had originally aired on TBS but will move to HBO Max when that service debuts next spring. A Gossip Girl reboot is also in the works on the service.

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.