Advanced Television

Research: Online dominates young Americans’ screen time

February 9, 2022

The annual Video Redefined study from Hub Entertainment Research, which examines how American consumers divvy up their entertainment time, highlights the impact that new sources of video-based entertainment are having on traditional TV and movie viewing.

Key findings:

1) TV and movies account for less than half of all consumers’ screen-based leisure time—the lowest level since Hub has been tracking entertainment habits.

  • TV and movies account for just 48 per cent of all the time consumers say they spend with screen-based entertainment, down 5 points from a year ago (and down 11 points from 2019).
  • Replacing TV and movie time is time spent watching online videos, gaming, and browsing social media, up an equivalent 5 points from last year.

2) When it comes to how they spend their entertainment time, younger and older consumers bear almost no resemblance.

  • At just 35 years old, Hub starts to see a major shift toward TV and movies as the primary source of entertainment time: those aged 35+ spend 60 per cent of their time watching TV and movies.
  • For those aged 13-24, TV and movies account for just one-quarter of entertainment time.
  • The percentages are almost exactly the reverse for time spent on online videos, gaming, and social media: 57 per cent for 13-24; just 28 per cent for 35+.

3) Young consumers spend almost as much time watching online videos as they spend watching traditional TV.

  • 13-24 year olds estimate that they spend nearly 14 hours per week watching ‘non-premium’ online videos (i.e., videos that are not traditional TV shows or movies). That’s only about an hour less than the time they estimate they spend watching TV and movies.
  • At the other end of the spectrum are 35+ consumers, who spend 2.5 as much time watching TV and movies than online videos.

4) When asked directly, half of young consumers acknowledge that the time they spent with other screen-based entertainment has cut into their TV viewing time.

  • 51 per cent of those aged 13-24 say they spend less time watching TV shows and movies because of the time they spend on gaming, online videos, social media, and other non-TV entertainment activities.
  • The impact is much lower among older consumers: only 19 per cent of those aged 35+ say other screen-based viewing is cutting into their traditional TV and movie time.

“When it comes to sources of screen-based entertainment, younger and older consumers could not be more different,” said Peter Fondulas, Hub principal and co-author of the study. “The million-dollar question is whether today’s young consumers will always prioritise non-traditional content—or whether they’ll start to resemble older consumers as they grow older. Our prediction is that their behaviors are so ingrained that non-traditional content will always be a significant part of their entertainment consumption.”

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