Millennials like TV programming, even with advertising, as much or more than other adults. And Millennials have stronger emotional bonds to TV characters than YouTube personalities, according to a 2018 report by the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB).
The common perception is that Millennials have deserted commercial television. The data in the report indicates otherwise, noting Millennials watch TV as much as other adults, just less so on cable. This finding suggests marketers trying to reach Millennials shouldn’t entirely abandon ad-supported TV programming and dump all their advertising on Instagram and YouTube.
VAB’s members are pretty much the who’s who of broadcasting and premium video content. Nevertheless, the takeaways in the report titled, “Exploring Millennials’ Meaningful Relations with TV Programming,” are striking. The topline finds are:
Millennials feel a strong bond with TV programming and regularly set aside time to watch their favorite programs, prioritizing it as “me time.”
Millennial viewers are actively engaged beyond when TV programs air by sharing and posting video clips, following actors on social media, reading recaps and scouring the web to find behind-the-scenes scoops.
Motivated by their attachment to TV shows, Millennials buy products, select travel destinations and dine at restaurants they have seen featured or advertising on TV.
A key underlying theme in the report is that Millennials do more than watch TV; they engage with programs and actors that interest them. The emotion bond they forge carries over to digital platforms such as “liking” a program or actor on Facebook, sharing video clips and tweeting.
Millennials are often the cultural carriers of phrases or memes that originate on TV programs, including dressing up like a favorite character on Halloween. They also serve as the word-of-mouth ambassadors for programs that have appeal for Millennial audiences and are more likely to feel personal connections to favorite TV program actors. Sometimes the attachment is so strong Millennial viewers go through something akin to withdrawal when a season ends.
The picture of Millennials sitting by themselves staring at their smartphones or tablets isn’t completely accurate either, according to the report. Millennials enjoy the communal dimension of watching favorite TV programs with their friends.
While Millennials consume lots of content on YouTube, the data from the VAB report indicates they enjoy live TV programming, despite advertising, significantly more (40 percent to 29 percent).