Movie Attendance Among Younger 'Digital' Audiences

The silver screen continues to lose sway among younger, more digitally oriented consumers — the most coveted demo for Hollywood.

Americans aged 12-24 said they saw 15% fewer films in cinemas versus 2013, according to new research from Nielsen.

In 2014, consumers in the demo — which Nielsen dubs “digitals” — said they saw an average of 7.1 movies at the theater, down from 8.4 in 2013. The decline extends a years-long trend among the 12-24 cohort, which saw an average of 10.3 movies in theaters in 2008. Meanwhile, moviegoing frequency among moviegoers 25 and older has remained comparatively stable over the same span, according to Nielsen.

Similarly, a report from MPAA earlier this year found attendance among moviegoers 18-24 fell an unprecedented 17% in 2013, while attendance in the 12-17 age bracket dropped nearly 15%.

Overall, 77% of Americans said they saw at least one movie in a theater this year, about the same as in 2013, according to Nielsen. But they’re going to fewer movies: an average of 7.3 films in cinemas this year versus 7.7 in 2013, per the report.

Hollywood sweated it out this summer with the worst performance at the box office in eight years. Through Dec. 7, U.S. box-office revenue is down 4.6% year-over-year, according to Rentrak.

The so-called “digital” generation may be forgoing trips to the movies in favor of watching streaming video at home. About 87% of those 12-24 stream movies or TV shows over the Internet, and 36% said they stream more content now than last year, according to the Nielsen study. More than 60% of this group said they’ve streamed at least two feature-length movies in a single day.

But digitals are far more social than their elders, both online and in person. Two-thirds of those 12-24 post about movies on social networks, and of those nearly 75% share their opinion of a film. Movie trailers remain their top source of movie information, followed by social recommendations, per Nielsen. In addition, out of age brackets Nielsen studied, digitals are the most likely to attend the theater as a group, with nearly two-thirds usually going the movies in a group of at least three people.

The Nielsen report is based on a survey conducted in September 2014 of 4,100 people in the U.S. aged 12-74, as well as 450 children aged 6-11. The study has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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