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YouTube is must-have service for 67% of consumers 13-24 while only 36% cite pay TV, according to Defy Media survey

Teens and young adults still tune in to TV — but they watch considerably more video on YouTube, Netflix and other Internet sources, according to a new study. And even more alarming for the traditional TV biz, most say they can live without cable or satellite television.

Consumers aged 13-24 watch 12.1 hours of video per week on YouTube, social media and other free online sources, and another 8.8 hours weekly on Netflix and other subscription-video services, according to a survey fielded by digital-media firm Defy Media. That’s more than two and a half times the 8.2 hours weekly they spend watching television.

“People want to paint the demise of cable TV as the result of cost or lack of access,” Defy Media exec VP of marketing Andy Tu said. “But this younger demo is saying, ‘The stuff on television isn’t relevant to me.'”

YouTube topped the list of must-have video sources, with 67% of respondents agreeing they “can’t live without” it, followed by Netflix at 51% and social-media services — an aggregate of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Tumblr — at 48%, as video usage continues to rise on those platforms. Only 36% of the Gen Z and millennial consumers said they can’t live without traditional TV, according to Defy’s fourth annual Acumen Report.

Among young consumers who don’t have pay TV, 40% cited less expensive options while 24% said they are simply not interested in the programming on TV, the study found. When financially dependent youths leave home, 56% expect to subscribe to cable or satellite TV compared with 86% who plan to subscribe to Netflix.

YouTube remains the most-viewed video platform among the demo: 85% of respondents said they regularly watch the Google-owned video service. Netflix came in at 66%, followed by TV (62%), Facebook (53%), Instagram (37%), Snapchat (33%), Vine (27%), Hulu (22%) and Amazon Video (19%) and Twitter (19%).

On social media, the Defy study found that the majority of young consumers view video from people they don’t know. Only 14% said they watch videos from friends and family, with 24% saying they watch mostly videos featuring their favorite digital celebs and another 24% viewing videos with people they do not know personally, such as pranks or “fails.” About 11% said they watch video of TV and movie stars on social media.

Of the 13- to 24-year-old consumers surveyed, 77% said digital video serves as a “boredom killer” and 61% said it’s a stress reliever. About 60% said they watch Internet video to stay up to date on what’s trending or new, 47% said it was to learn how to do something and 44% said they use it to fall asleep.

Younger consumers accept advertising in online video — depending on the format. About 58% said they don’t mind watching ads to support their favorite digital stars, according to the Defy study. While 80% prefer a 15-second preroll ads, 53% say a one-minute spot is acceptable. In addition, 89% said a 5-second intro featuring a brand sponsor is always or sometimes OK and 87% approve of product placement in a video (such as digital talent actually demonstrating a product or calling out a sponsor).

Defy Media’s Acumen study was conducted in partnership with Kelton Research and Hunter Qualitative. It comprised an online poll in the fall of 2015 of 1,300 Americans aged 13-24 representative of the U.S. population, as well as a focus group of 54 consumers in the age demo who completed 14-day journals chronicling daily video viewing and opinions.

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