Advanced Television

Research: Pandemic boosts US youngsters’ online viewing

January 11, 2021

Young consumers are watching nearly as much online video content as TV shows and movies, according to Hub Entertainment Research’s annual Video Redefined study, which tracks Americans’ online video habits, along with the impact online video has on viewing of traditional TV shows and movies.

In addition to greater online video viewing among 13-24 year olds, the study also shows that ads in online videos resonate more strongly with this age group than traditional advertising.

Highlights from the 2020 study:

1)    Young consumers who watch online video spend almost as much time watching videos as they spend watching traditional TV shows and movies.

  • 13-24 year olds who watch online videos at least weekly estimate that they watch 11.4 hours of non-TV online video content per week, nearly identical to the 11.8 hours they spend watching traditional TV content.
  • By contrast, 25-34 year olds say they watch seven hours more TV than online video per week. And for those 35 or older, TV hours are three times higher than online video hours.

2)    Young consumers not only watch more online video than older consumers – they’re watching even more now than before the pandemic.

  • Two thirds of 13-24 year olds say they’re watching more online video than they did before Covid.
  • The pandemic has had much less of an impact on online viewing among older consumers: 59 per cent say they’re watching the same amount, with fewer than one in three watching more.

3)    Even the platforms consumers choose for online video differ dramatically by age.

  • YouTube is unsurprisingly the top video platform across age groups—about three in four of those who watch any online video say they’ve watched from YouTube in the past week.
  • But for 13-24 year olds, Instagram runs a relatively close second to YouTube for online video, followed by Snapchat and TikTok.

○      Note that Facebook is not a top choice for video among young consumers: fewer than one in three 13-24 year old online video viewers say they’ve watched videos on Facebook in the past seven days.

  • For 35+ consumers, Facebook is the clear second choice for online video after YouTube—no other platform comes close.

4)    Products and brands have clearly benefited from young consumers’ affinity for online video.

  • Two-thirds of 13-34 year olds who watch YouTube influencer videos specifically say they’ve seen products or brands featured on those videos.

○      Among 35+ consumers who also watch YouTube influencers, fewer than half have noticed a product or brand during the videos.

  • What’s more, young consumers trust influencer endorsements over traditional types of advertising:

○      13-24 year olds are more likely to be persuaded to buy a product based on an influencer endorsement than based on other types of advertising. That endorsement advantage is not as strong among older YouTube influencer viewers.

5)    Online video also meets a very different viewer need than traditional TV content.

  • When we ask TV viewers to describe their reasons for watching shows on TV networks or Netflix, their top response is to unwind and decompress…
  • However, among YouTube influencer video viewers, their main reason for watching is to be informed or learn something new
  • And TikTok serves yet another purpose: a way to kill time

“The rapid growth of platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, added to the continuing popularity of YouTube influencers, has made online video a leisure-time force to be reckoned with among 13-24 year olds,” said Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study. “Of course, that popularity has major implications for marketers, especially considering that young consumers are more likely trust product endorsements from their favourite online video personalities than traditional advertising.”

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