Nielsen: Big Events Drive Millennials to TV News

While millennials are more likely to get their news from digital sources, when a big story breaks, their TV news viewing spikes, according to a new report from Nielsen.

Nielsen calls millennials the most coveted consumer demographic from a marketer engagement perspective, yet are the most stereotyped. To provide a better look at their media habits and attitudes, Nielsen has created special studies of this group that marketers are so eager to reach.

In its second millennials on millennials report, Nielsen found that digital news reaches 88% of millennials--those ages 21 to 37--per month. That’s a larger percentage than the 80% of people 38 and older reached by digital news.

NIelsen’s definition of digital news does not include social media.

National TV news reaches 90% of those 38-plus viewers, but only two-thirds of millennials.

When news breaks and for big events, such as the 2016 Presidential Election and the Inauguration, millennials continue to look toward digital news, but also tune into TV for supplemental information, Nielsen said.

Millennials do not spend nearly as much time consuming news as their older cohorts. Adults older than 38 on average consumed 30,103 minutes of news per year, compared to 8,766 minutes for millennials.

The majority of millennials get their news from both TV and digital sources. However 36% get news only from digital sources, which 8% get their news from TV alone. That’s very different from older adults, with 72% getting news from digital and TV, 9% from digital only and 18% from just TV.

During big events, such as the Presidential Inauguration, the reach of TV news among millennials nearly doubled its normal levels and the reach of digital news. However millennials were still significantly more likely to rely solely on digital news than their older counterparts, the report said.

The report is put together by Nielsen staffers in the millennial demographic based on Nielsen data sets, including its first quarter Total Audience Report. That data has been supplemented by a custom survey.

In an online test by Nielsen’s Media Lab, millennials said they find digital news trustworthy and credible. The media lab also found that millennials feel they learn about the news on late night shows, more so than older viewers.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.