Millennials Want TV—And Accept Ads: Study

According to Magid Generational Strategies, in 2012, 45% of adults 18-34 would “definitely accept/view ads” in exchange for the ability to consume full-length TV content for free

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More millennial viewers are enjoying television and they are more accepting of advertising. According to a new study by the Magid Generational Strategies unit of Frank N. Magid Associates, in fall 2012, TV was the type of content preferred by millennials, topping movies and music. When the same study was taken in 2009, TV ranked behind movies and music.

According to Sharalyn Hartwell, executive director of Magid Generational Strategies, TV is gaining in part because of quality choices. But the big factor is the availability of content. “There’s so much more choice and ways for them to access the content,” Hartwell says.

Hartwell notes that five or six years ago, networks weren’t sure if they should put full episodes online. “Now that that’s become more of an industry standard, whether it is offering it on [the Web] or through the VOD services, what that’s really done is create more fans of TV overall, particularly among this age group,” she says.

Hartwell says millennials are also more likely than other generations to engage in binge viewing. “A common thing we heard was they kept describing it like watching a movie,” she says.

Millennial viewers have not really embraced procedural dramas, and binge viewing works better with serialized programs.

“In a procedural, you know that at about 22 minutes in, you’re going to see this, at about 10 minutes to go, you’re gong to know that it’s going to get all wrapped up. So when you watch multiple procedurals in a row, that doesn’t feel like a movie because a movie doesn’t tie itself up and start all over in the middle,” Hartwell notes.

And as millennials engage more strongly with TV content, advertising messages in TV commercials should get a better hearing.

In 2009, 37% of 18-to-34-year-olds said they would “definitely accept/view ads” in exchange for the ability to consume full-length TV content for free. In 2012, that number jumped to 45%.

“This generation, they’re savvy consumers, they’re savvy about marketing,” Hartwell says. “They grew up with Nick and Disney. They know they’re an attractive segment, and they get the trade-off. They understand that watching some ads is the price of entry, and they’re willing to do that.”