Millennials and the Future of Television

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Last week I attended a conference on the future of television. I already wrote about much of the conference on my Examiner Television page. However, I wanted to save the last panel of the conference, “Millennials and Television: Youth Trends Impacting the Television Business” for my Connect with your Teens readers.

The panel was moderated by David Card of Forrester Research. Also speaking on this panel were Lin Dai of Alloy Media & Marketing, Teemu Huuhtanen of Habbo Hotel and Melissa Lavigne of The Intelligence Group (division of CAA). They described millennials as the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s and are wired multitaskers.

First the panel set out to dispel some myths about millennials and media:
1. It is a myth that you can’t reach teens with television – they actually spend more time watching TV than online.
2. It is a myth that teens don’t like ads. Even though they are tech savvy, they do respond to advertising.
3. It is a myth that teens aren’t brand loyal. They are as brand loyal as adults, but they are also more willing to try new things. They are also much more dependent on friends advice.

Millennials are all over social applications. The number of people that watch webisodes are similar to those watching a comparable TV series however the advertisers are still not advertising on them as much. Millennials use social networks as word of mouth sources. Recommendations on what to view from social networking friends is the most important factor in them watching.

Because many millennials have been able to watch television shows online or by DVR, many don’t even know what networks or time that many of the shows they watch are on. Since they can find much of what they want to watch online for free, will this generation be willing to pay for cable TV?

Today’s youth tend to prefer watching comedy and fantasy. They also like smart complicated content like Lost. Millennials are known to be joiners and are team oriented. This has resulted in many more large ensemble TV shows. In the 90s we had Seinfeld, Sex in the City and Friends consisting of groups of 4 -6. Now we have Lost, Heroes and Grey’s Anatomy.

The type of people that are considered cool and can influence others has changed. With Generation X, everyone was pigeonholed, like in The Breakfast Club. Today’s teens tend to cross over many areas, probably a result of pressure to add to their college admission resumes.

All of the panel agreed that if millennials had to pick their ideal device it would be the mobile phone. They can take it anywhere and use it for almost anything, including watching TV. Eventually, all television may need to be offered on mobile phones for it to be relevant.

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