Survey: Which Media Platforms Are Most Popular Across Age Groups? 

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Illustration: VIP+: Adobe Stock

Note: This article is based on Variety Intelligence Platform’s special report “Demographic Divide,” available solely to subscribers.

Entertainment is an industry ever evolving. From silent black-and-white pictures in theaters to 4K videos able to be beamed into any house or mobile device, the industry has never been one to sit still.  

Yet the last few years have seen the number of innovations quicken considerably. Whereas once entertainment innovation was the advent of cable television and networks aimed at different audiences, now there are many platforms, from video games to social media to streaming services, competing for their share of engagement time. 

This is apparent when looking at which platforms the 15-29s are most likely to use in a typical week. VIP+ partnered with consumer insights experts GetWizer to understand the differences in media and entertainment consumption and attitudes by age for the second version of the “Demographic Divide” report and found that no traditional media source cracks the top 10 most used platforms for the youngest group of consumers. 

(To see the top 40 platforms for 15-29s, 30-44s, 45-59s and 60+, dig into the full report). 

Instead, the most popular platforms are subscription streaming and social media platforms. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for flexible-thinking traditional media firms but will require a difference in attitude regarding content.  

Many media companies currently treat social media and YouTube as repositories for clipped versions of media properties. Yet with younger consumers increasingly unlikely to climb the ladder to the source, embracing content distribution via the channels young consumers are using will be key to maintaining relevancy and maximizing audience scale. 

It is a very different story when looking at the most used platforms among 45-59s. While new-media brands Facebook and Netflix see the greatest frequency among consumers, the four major broadcast networks each are placed within the top 10 (and can be expected to increase once the NFL returns in the fall), as does FM radio. 

The differences between age groups highlights an issue facing marketers. Older consumers typically use a much smaller number of entertainment formats on average than those under 45. This is important because it means that younger consumers are more widely spread out across media platforms, with fewer available at any one service. Thus, reaching them with advertising requires greater spend across more platforms, driving up costs for marketers as well as increasing the complexity of reaching targets. 

As noted, this is also something traditional media must employ in order to reach younger audiences. VIP+ recently noted that awards shows geared toward younger viewers, such as the MTV VMAs, would be better off partnering with TikTok or YouTube than sticking with a medium the demo no longer watches. The results of this demographic divide demonstrate that media must now move to where the audiences are rather than pretending they will return to where they once were. 

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