Horowitz: Gen Z Watching Both Professional TV, Non-TV Content

A young Black man watches content on a tablet while sitting on a couch with his feet up.
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Gen Z viewers split their viewing time evenly between long-form and short-form content, with the older portion of of the demo spending more time watching traditional TV programming, according to a new study by Horowitz Research.  

The Focus Generation Next survey of 800 Gen Zers 13-24 years of age reports that while the group as a whole splits viewing time rather evenly between professional TV content from networks and streaming services and non-TV content such as user-generated videos, there are different viewing patterns within the demo. 

The report found that 18-24 year olds spend more than half of their viewing time (52%) watching content from networks and streamers such as Netflix and Disney Plus compared to 47% of 13-17 year olds, who spend more of their time viewing non-TV content. 

Older Gen Zers are more likely to watch content from a wider variety of platforms – including subscription streaming services and virtual MVPDs like Hulu TV and Sling TV – than younger Gen Zers, who are more dependent on their parents to access cable or streaming services, said the survey. 

Overall, Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu are the most watched services for Gen Z viewers, according to the survey.

While short-form video is the preferred choice for younger Gen Zers now, as they grow older they will most likely gravitate to traditional TV content for their viewing choices, according to Horowitz. 

“We are often asked how media brands can engage with Gen Zers who seem to be so immersed in short-form content. I like to remind them that this generation is not the first cohort of young people to be engaged in short-form content,” said Horowitz Research chief revenue officer and insights and strategy lead Adriana Waterston. “Engagement with short form does not totally cannibalize long-form viewing. Young people today are still watching professionally produced TV content, just less of it compared even to older audiences within their generational cohort. As younger people’s lifestyles change as they enter new life stages and as they develop different interests, deeper engagement with long-form content across a range of genres will follow.” ■

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.