Advanced Television

Research: Gen Z’s different definition of ‘entertainment’

January 11, 2023

Television, gaming, and social media were once separate categories of entertainment, but in 2023, these are all available and consumed on the same screens and devices, plus, they all compete for the same pool of disposable time.

This is according to Hub Entertainment Research’s annual Video Redefined study, a deep dive into how viewers choose and use content from all these options.

Key findings from this year’s study:

  1. For decades, TV has been the centre of the entertainment ecosystem. But for Gen Z consumers, it’s just one of several ways they spend their time.
  • Viewers age 35+ say they spend more time watching TV than any other kind of screen-based entertainment – 43 per cent of their total screen time. Only about a fifth of their time goes to gaming or ‘non-premium’ online video on platforms such as YouTube or TikTok.
  • Among those age 13-24 this proportion is inverted: they estimate less than a fifth of their screen time (17 per cent) is spent on TV shows. They spend more than twice that on gaming and non-premium video combined.

2) The TV screen is the home base for premium video content. But Gen Z allocate as much time or more to content on other devices

This disparity in content between the youngest consumers and their older counterparts is mirrored in the screens they use. Both groups allocate about a fifth of their total screen time to content on a smart TV. But otherwise, device usage of the two groups is very different:

  • Viewers age 35+ estimate they spend about a third of their total screen time watching content through a pay-TV set top box and only 12 per cent to entertainment on a phone.
  • Those age 13-24 allocate the most time (30 per cent) to content on their smartphone, and only 8 per cent to content through a cable box

3) TikTok has quickly become an entertainment hub for young consumers.

YouTube remains the biggest player in ‘non-premium’ online video: more than 80 per cent of respondents use it regularly. But TikTok has become indispensable to many young viewers, in a relatively short period of time. Among those age 13-24…

  • Two-thirds have used TikTok in the past week (second only to YouTube)
  • Among those using TikTok, 72 per cent say they watch it every day (compared with just 48 per cent of YouTube users in that age group)
  • Among those who use *both*, more than half (51 per cent) say they’d choose TikTok over YouTube if they could only have one

“The ‘streaming wars’ monopolise the spotlight when it comes to predicting the fortunes of media companies in the future,” said Jon Giegengack, principal at Hub. “But this obscures an even more important shift: the next generation of TV consumers are just less engaged with traditional TV itself. Gaming and social video are the focus of their entertainment lifestyles. There’s no reason to assume they’ll grow out of these habits as they age. Media organisations need to adapt to these changes in order to meet tomorrow’s viewers on the devices and platforms where they will spend most of their time.”

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