Note: This article is based on the Variety Intelligence Platform special report “Demographic Divide,” available only to subscribers.
Entertainment is an ever-changing industry. From silent black and white images in cinemas to 4K video that can be streamed to any home or mobile device, the industry has never been one to stand still.
However, recent years have seen the number of innovations accelerate considerably. Where once the innovation in entertainment 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 evident when looking at which platforms 15-29 year olds are most likely to use in a typical week. VIP+ teamed up with consumer insights experts GetWizer to understand differences in media and entertainment consumption and attitudes by age for the second iteration of the “Demographic Divide” report and found that no media source Traditional only ranks among the top 10 most used platforms for the youngest group of consumers.
(To see the top 40 platforms for ages 15-29, 30-44, 45-59, and 60+, check out the full report).
Instead, the most popular platforms are subscription streaming and social media platforms. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for flexible-minded traditional media companies, but it will require a difference in attitude towards content.
Many media companies currently treat social media and YouTube as repositories for truncated versions of media properties. Yet, with younger consumers increasingly less likely to climb the ladder to source, embracing content distribution through the channels they use will be key to maintaining relevance and maximizing audience scale.
It’s a whole different story when you look at the most used platforms among 45-59 year olds. While new media brands Facebook and Netflix see the greatest frequency among consumers, the four major broadcast networks are each placed in the top 10 (and can be expected to increase once the NFL by back in the fall), as is FM radio.
The differences between age groups highlight a problem that marketers face. Older consumers generally use a much smaller number of entertainment formats on average than those under the age of 45. This is important because it means younger consumers are more widely spread across media platforms, with fewer formats available on a single service. Thus, reaching them with advertising requires greater spending across more platforms, increasing costs for marketers and increasing the complexity of reaching targets.
As noted, it’s also something traditional media should use to reach younger audiences. VIP+ recently noted that award shows aimed at younger viewers, such as the MTV VMAs, would be better off partnering with TikTok or YouTube rather than sticking to a medium the demo no longer watches. The results of this demographic divide demonstrate that the media must now move to where the audiences are rather than pretending they will return to where they once were.