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INTX 2015: Authenticity Key to Reaching Millennials

Contrary to popular belief, millennials aren’t all lazy, fickle, cord-cutting kids, but they do crave authenticity and demand it from their entertainment content, according to a panel of cable-network executives speaking at the INTX show late Tuesday afternoon.

Millennials, a group that basically consists of adults ages 18-34, have been labeled disruptors because of their propensity to access content via alternative forms of distribution, rather than cable’s traditional bundle. But rather than fear or shun the millenials, Revolt TV vice president of audience insights and strategy Jake Katz said he believes the industry should embrace them and find ways to satisfy their viewing habits.

“Yes everything, about them is different, and yes, they collapsed the music industry … but if we actually treat it differently than the music industry did and look at them as an opportunity, there’s a lot to think about as the industry plans its future,” he said.

Julie Piepenkotter, executive vice president of FX Networks, said millennials are not kids but young adults living in a changing world, and that reality is shaping their actions across the political, economic and entertainment space.

“They have to be more flexible and more pragmatic,” she said. “They’re making their way in ways that are demonstrative of enormous flexibility and enormous ability to deal with a complex world.”

Executives also said that millennials desire authenticity across the board and are wary of anything from politics to entertainment that doesn't come off as authentic.

MTV senior vice president of consumer insights and research Jane Gould added that millennials demand transparency from all institutions from which they deal with and will gravitate toward technologies such as social media that offer such transparency.

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.