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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 23, 2011

How Will Millennial Video Consumption Patterns Change?

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

College-age people don’t generally buy video subscriptions if they are living on campus, though arguably more do so when living off campus. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have abandoned “traditional” TV in favor of other media, a recent piece reported.

According to the website Mr Youth, 38 percent of college students said they watch ad-supported TV channels shown on cable systems, while 31 percent said they watch “premium” channels.

Additionally, about 91 percent view video on their laptops, while a majority of college students watch on their smartphones or desktop PCs. More than one-third of those surveyed watch video content using a gaming console connected to a TV, more than those who have access to premium cable service and nearly as many that have basic cable.

That behavior is not unusual, as most people now watch some type of entertainment video on smartphones, tablets, PCs game consoles or other personal and Internet-connected devices. In fact, a new survey from Frank N. Magid Associates finds that more than half of all viewers who watch online video are now watching TV episodes and movies on the Internet. 

Millennials are not cutting the cable cord completely, but that they “are leading the media users and adopters who are spearheading the movement to cutting the cord,” said Christian Borges, vice president of marketing at Mr Youth.

One reason for viewing via multiple screens is that many college students don’t have money in their budgets to pay expensive cable bills. Another reason is they are comfortable consuming content online. 

However, market researchers would not necessarily agree that spending patterns and habits of college students remain substantially unchanged as they get older, enter the work force or start families. Consumer spending patterns do change as consumers grow older, and not simply because disposable income rises. 

But nobody knows whether current media consumption patterns will persist in precisely the same way once disposable income ceases to be a practical issue for college-age consumers as they age. There already is some evidence that a significant percentage of Millennials do not buy subscription TV services, even though money to do so is not a problem. 

About 200,000 fewer subscribers will buy entertainment video services in 2012, analysts at Credit Suisse predict. In large part, the modest contraction can be blamed on weak formation of new households and a growing number of new households that are avoiding subscription TV subscriptions altogether.

Furthermore, many new households are not signing up for cable or satellite, the analysts said. While there were 1.8 million households polled, according to U.S. Census estimates cited by the report, only 16.9 percent of them are currently signed up for video entertainment services.

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jamie Epstein