Data: U.S. Millennials Watch Netflix Series More Than Broadcast TV Hits

Millennials Prefer Netflix Series of Broadcast
Courtesy of Netflix

The top four series of the fall TV season among U.S. viewers aged 18-24 were from Netflix, according to data from audience measurement firm Symphony Advanced Media, beating out premiering and returning series from the broadcast networks.

Making a Murderer,” “Master of None,” “F Is for Family” and “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” were the top viewing choices for this coveted demographic, with Fox animated comedies “Bob Burgers” and “Family Guy” next on the list.

Symphony studies multiplatform U.S. viewing based on listening apps audiences have been paid to download onto smartphones, PCs, tablets and other devices. These apps pick up sound from shows viewed on those platforms, spanning broadcast primetime series and streaming originals across Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Crackle.

Viewing was tracked on episodes that debuted between Sept. 21 and Jan. 31, and were available to watch for 35 days.

“Murderer” also killed with millennials aged 25 to 34 as their favorite fall-season program, and placed a respectable third with older audiences, ages 35 to 54. This older demographic largely preferred broadcast options, with nine of its top 10 series hailing from ABC, CBS, Fox or NBC.

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But the strong showing by “Murderer” et al. among the age group that has decades of TV consumption still ahead of it is a telling indicator of just how popular programming from the streaming world can be relative to that on the broadcast networks — a comparison not easy to make in an era of limited visibility for audience measurement of OTT content.

The ratings assigned to the shows Symphony measures translate to the percentage of each demographic tuning in to the average minute of an episode, averaged across episodes. Symphony places different weights on its users to offset its skew toward younger audiences more digitally savvy about downloading its app.

Broadcast shows fared better with millennials the longer the shows could be viewed. Symphony’s ratings on “Family Guy,” “Quantico,” “Heroes Reborn,” “Jane the Virgin” and “New Girl” all skyrocketed more than 200% between their live + same day and live + 35 days viewing for the 18-24 demo.

Millennial behavior, more so than any show’s perceived quality, is likely driving the trend toward Netflix dominance.

“Adults 18-24 are leading the charge for accessing TV through non-paid methods, like sharing passwords, which you can do on Netflix,” said Laura Grover, senior VP of Client Solutions at Symphony. “Netflix also has the [largest] subscriber base out of all the [digital] services. They have the largest audience available to them, and that is coming through the numbers.”

Millennials’ attraction to Netflix parallels their shift away from traditional pay-TV packages. Currently about one-third of 18-24 millennials are cord-cutters, and one-fourth of that demo with a cable subscription say they intend to cut the cord in the future, according to Symphony.

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