Teens switching from live TV to ‘on demand’

Children and teenagers are increasingly watching TV through a smartphone and using on demand services, as viewing habits among young people continue to shift towards mobile and on demand streaming, a study has shown.

Research by MediaCom showed that a third (33 per cent) of teenagers regularly view TV content via a smartphone, significantly more than the 25 per cent who did so in 2016. Alongside this, teenagers are increasingly choosing to watch TV using on demand services, with 38 per cent selecting this as their most common way to view, higher than the 35 per cent who watch most of their TV live.

The key findings:
• Nearly 4 in 10 (38 per cent) young people watch programmes via on demand streaming services, over live TV (35 per cent)
• Netflix was the most used streaming service amongst 13-19 year olds (58 per cent) last year but didn’t see growth while Amazon Instant Video (32 per cent), NowTV (15 per cent) & Apple TV (11 per cent) all did
• Two thirds of 8-12 year olds own smartphones, highlighting how phone ownership is changing the way that the younger generation interact with their favourite programmes
o A third (33 per cent) of teenagers regularly view TV content via smartphone, significantly more than the 25 per cent who did so in 2016

Further exploring device usage in young people, the study also showed that smartphone ownership has significantly grown among pre-teens within the last year. Two thirds (66 per cent) of 8-12 year olds now own a smartphone, compared to only 49 per cent in 2015 and 58 per cent in 2016. While smartphones have become more accessible at a younger age, the tablet – which was once a stalwart of video content viewing – is rapidly losing pace. Tablet ownership has dipped 8 per cent among 8-12 year olds and 4 per cent in 13+ compared to 2016.

Josh Krichefski, CEO of MediaCom UK, commented: “Mobile and on demand services have changed viewing patterns of everyday consumers. Whilst 84 per cent of young people regularly watch live programming on TV, the explosion of streaming services such as NowTV and Amazon Instant Video show that ‘live’ is no longer the only way kids watch. Consumers now have an even greater choice of when, where and how to watch their favourite videos, shows and movies – and the shift towards smartphone viewing is increasing. On-demand capabilities are critical to the popularity of shows for adults like Game of Thrones and those for kids like Power Rangers in 2017’s viewing eco-system.”

Netflix remains the most used streaming service with 58 per cent of 13-19 year olds using the on demand TV service, but is the only platform that hasn’t experienced growth since last year. Amazon Instant Video comes second, with 32 per cent of teenagers using the streaming service (up from 24 per cent last year). 15 per cent of teens use NowTV and 11 per cent watch content on Apple TV. Fuelled by the rise in streaming services, teens now consider The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The Grand Tour and Pretty Little Liars to be some of their favourite TV shows.

The study also brings to light kids’ savviness around the issue of data privacy. 49 per cent of 8-12s are concerned about information advertisers have about them (up by 10 per cent since 2016), with 47 per cent of 13-16 year olds also admitting unease (up 6 per cent year-on-year). 17-19 year olds, however, remain the most worried about data privacy, with 54 per cent showing concern.

“As smartphones become increasingly accessible at an earlier age, children are the first generation growing up as true digital natives,” added Krichefski. “They are therefore savvy about digital advertising and the data that fuels it. Brands need to ensure that their targeting is relevant and enhance the experience for the consumer, whatever their age group.”