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Millennials’ Media Habits Vary Sharply by Life Stage, Says Nielsen Report

The rapid transition of millennials’ lives make them difficult to blanket as a monolithic demographic with a common set of media behaviors, according to Nielsen in its latest Total Audience Report, released today.

The company’s detailed study of millennials broke down the 18-34 age group into three life-stage categories and found stark differences in media preferences and device penetrations among segments it labeled Dependents (those living in someone else’s home), On Their Own (living in their own home without children) and Starting a Family (living in their own home with children).

When looking at insights surrounding the television screen, the average person 18-34 spent two hours and 45 minutes watching live TV each day in the fourth quarter of 2015, and one hour, 23 minutes using TV-connected devices — a total of four hours, eight minutes using a TV set for any purpose. Dependent millennials watch a little less live TV than the average (two hours, 32 minutes) while also spending less time with television overall (3 hours, 44 minutes).

On Their Own millennials have the lowest penetration of traditional sources of video (multi-channel subscriptions/working antenna) and spend the most time outside the home to boot. As a result, they watch the least amount of live television of the three millennial groups (two hours, six minutes) and they have the highest penetration of multimedia devices and access to SVOD services — meaning they spend the greatest amount of time with TV-connected devices (one hour, 32 minutes).

Millennials Starting a Family have greater multichannel penetration than the On Their Own group (79% vs. 72%) and are otherwise more likely to have a working antenna (14% vs. 12%). And as the millennial group that spends the most time at home, their time spent watching live TV (three hours, 16 minutes per day) and total use of TV screen time (four hours, 40 minutes) is the largest.

On the tech front, 78% of On Their Own millennials have subscription-based video-on demand (SVOD) services like Netflix and Hulu, which is 14 percentage points higher than Dependent Millennial Adults (64%) and 20 percentage points higher than Starting a Family Millennials (58%).

On Their Own millennials are also more likely than the other millennial groups to have multimedia devices, broadband Internet and laptop PCs.

Starting a Family millennials, however, are more likely to own DVRs (47%), DVD players (69%) and tablets (65%), the latter perhaps predicated on the presence of children in the home rather than income level. (Still, penetration for all devices tends to be higher in high-income homes.)

 

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Among all adults in the U.S., the average time spent per day on live television continues to decrease, but only slightly. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Americans watched four hours, 27 minutes of live TV per day, down from 4:31 a year ago and 4:47 two years ago. Time-shifted viewing (32 minutes, up from 31 minutes last year) and radio usage (1 hours, 49 minutes, down from 1 hour, 51 minutes) also were close to last year’s levels.

The biggest changes in average time spent per day by adults over the past year have been time spent on smartphones using an app or the Internet (one hour, 12 minutes — up from 58 minutes), using the Internet via a PC (55 minutes, up from 47 minutes) and time spent on multimedia devices. Also, time spent on game consoles (14 minutes) is up from last year (12 minutes).

Blacks continue to watch by far more television each week (44 hours, 37 minutes) than the overall average (31:28), and more than Hispanics (24:49) and Asians (16:16) combined. Asians lead the way among time spent each week on a multimedia device (two hours, 17 minutes), while blacks average 59 minutes, and Hispanics (1:13) are closest to the overall average of 1 hour, 18 minutes.

Among television distribution sources, the number of broadcast-only homes grew to 13.09 million (up from 12.35 million a year ago) as did the number of broadband-only homes (3.87 million from 3.13 million). On the decline was the number of wired cable homes (no telco), which fell to 51.97 million from 53.35 million the previous year, and what Nielsen calls cable plus (99.44 million households vs. 100.93 million a year earlier). The number of homes with satellite (34.46 million) and telco (13.38 million) held fairly steady.

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