The best way to anticipate the future is to look at how behaviors among the young differ from older generations in order to pinpoint where changes are occuring.
When it comes to entertainment, this suggests a substantially different content mix than the current landscape, with current media giants wise to pay attention to the new ways content is being consumed.
By that, we don’t mean just streaming video. As can be seen when comparing age groups across the services they report usiing most in a week, exclusive survey data from GetWizer Consumer Insights for VIP+’s “Demographic Divide” report shows there are video formats overall in the top 30, as the emergence of large-scale streaming platforms sees younger generations watching a few and doing other things with their entertainment time.
Time spent on entertainment will increasingly be filled by audio (15-29s have the most music or podcast-related services in their top 30, with 7) and video games, areas in which traditional media giants are not strong. This also shows the wisdom in Netflix’s recent move into mobile-based gaming, as well as Apple’s launch of the subscription Apple Arcade service. It’s likely there will be an increase in IP licensing from the likes of Disney, ViacomCBS and the future Warner Bros. Discovery to cash in on this.
The difference between present and future is encapsulated when looking at the top 10 brands used in the past week. Among the 15-29 cohort, there’s not one traditional TV network present, although Disney+ and the Disney/Comcast-owned Hulu are there. Compare this with 45-59, with four broadcast networks and FM radio stations in their top 10.
This points to media tastes being somewhat down to habit. Whilst all generations have incorporated some new media formats, the over-45s still turn to a traditional mix quite unlike the all-digital under-30s. The future will reflect this.
What does this mean for the companies vying for the digital generation? There are several blueprints for success to take note of, even if it means jettisoning “new” strategies announced during the great migration to streaming.
YouTube’s centering of YouTube around its offerings is paying off dividends, as there is either no separate app to access for different content types or, in the case of YouTube Music, links back to the original service.
Compare this with the streaming strategy ViacomCBS employs, with separate apps for Pluto TV, Paramount+ and Showtime. Making life more difficult than it needs to be for consumers for the sake of a buzzy line — in ViacomCBS’ case, that they are mirroring traditional TV with free (well, if CBS were only full of reruns), pay and premium pay — is never a good idea. Peacock is an example of an integrated service from traditional media that heeds this lesson, with Netflix’s aforementioned video game strategy another example to emulate.
The solution to avoiding the urge to re-create an outdated distribution strategy and to stop ignoring the evolution in media that is unfolding may be for execs to go native and consume content like the younger audiences they covet in order to finally nail a strategy that enables traditional media to slot into the looming new world.