CES: Millennials Value Netflix More Than Broadcast or Cable, Study Finds

Illustration by: Paweł Jońca

A NATPE/Content First and Consumer Electronics Association study finds that streaming devices dominate young people's viewing preferences

Netflix subscriptions are more valuable to millennials than broadcast and cable subscriptions, a recent study from NATPE/Content First and the Consumer Electronics Association has found.

The initial findings of the joint research study, the second such project from NATPE and CEA in as many years, were presented during International CES in Las Vegas on Thursday. The biggest takeaway was just how important streaming has become to how millennials, the generation defined as people ages 13 to 34, consume TV content.

According to the study, 51 percent of millennials consider Netflix subscriptions very valuable, compared to 42 percent for broadcast channels and 36 percent for cable subscriptions. Young people are also more likely to stream a full-length TV program than watch it live on TV during its original air time or time-delayed on a DVR.

"Our study confirms that the paradigm for TV content discovery has changed dramatically with increased availability and use of TV content streaming options," said NATPE chief executive Rod Perth. “With more than seven in 10 viewers in broadband households having streamed full-length TV programs in the past six months, there are opportunities for networks and content producers to reach and build audiences."

The study also found that 90 percent of viewers say they watch television programming on a TV set compared to 85 percent of millennials who count a TV as their preferred screen for viewing that content. That's still a relatively high figure but is likely to shrink given that the study also found that only 55 percent of millennials prefer to watch television on a TV set.

TV sets lack mobility, which is an important feature for young people, 28 percent of whom watch television on a tablet.

"While the vast majority of consumers continue to watch television programming on their TV, many consumers, particularly millennials, increasingly are turning to a variety of devices to view their TV content," said CEA chief executive Gary Shapiro. “This has profound implications for the way CE manufacturers market their products as they try to reach diverse markets."

These findings confirm what many broadcasters and cable companies have already come to terms with: They need to find new ways to reach millennials. Dish announced during CES that it would go after that audience with Sling TV, an over-the-top streaming service that it wants to be the third subscription for a millennial alongside Netflix and Hulu. Meanwhile, CBS recently launched OTT offering CBS All Access and HBO has announced plans for a standalone streaming service.

The full study will be released at NATPE in Miami at the end of January.

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