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Nielsen: TV Still Rules, But Millennials' Screen Use Varies

NEW YORK—Researchers have been trying to identify the media/viewing habits of Millennials for some time, but Nielsen is taking a new approach with its “Millennials on Millennials” study. This inaugural report was conducted by a team of Nielsen Millennial associates to offer insight into the media habits of the now largest generational group, one that has grown up in a world of rapidly changing technological advancements. One of its chief findings was that TV is still king, but the traditional TV box is not the only way they watch.

The report indicates that 66 percent of the average weekly minutes of video consumption for those between the ages of 18-34 comes from traditional TV; however, those above the age of 35 spend about 89 percent of their time watching traditional TV. Most of that difference is going to TV connected devices, things like DVD players, VCRs, game consoles and digital streaming devices. These TV-connected devices account for 23 percent of Millennials total video time, compared to older consumers’ 6 percent. The rest of the time for video consumption is split between PC, smartphones and tablets, though none crack the 10 percent mark for Millennials.

Despite the shift toward some non-traditional TV viewing methods, when the report looked into the number of viewers who changed the channel during commercial breaks of a premiere episode of various primetime programs, it was the 35+ crowd that had the more active remote, with 5.5 percent of 35-54 year olds changing the channel and 8 percent of 55 or older; Millennials came in at less than 2 percent. That doesn’t mean they were necessarily paying attention to the commercial though.

The study showed that Millennials’ program engagement and ad memorability were the lowest scores among the age groups, because they were instead engaged with other devices, like their smartphones. Still, most Millennials (79 percent) say they understand that ads are necessary, and close to a majority (46 percent) say ads don’t bother them, more so if the content is free (75 percent).

In addition, as Millennials sources of content go beyond the traditional TV to things like social media, respondents said that social media stars are becoming more synonymous with the idea of “celebrity.”

The full “Millennials on Millennials” report can be found on Nielsen’s website.