Nielsen: Millennials Media Habits Move in Stages

Millennials, the 18-to-34 year old demographic chased relentlessly by every advertiser, don’t have an common set of media behaviors, but instead change the way they consume media as they move through various stages of life, according to Nielsen’s fourth quarter Total Audience report.

In the report, released today for the first time, Nielsen confirms what some network executives have been saying for years – younger viewers watch and consume content differently whether they live at home with their parents, alone or are starting a family.

The report splits millennials into three groups: Dependent Adults (those who live in someone else’s home, usually with one or both parents); On Their Own (living in a home without children) and Starting a Family (living in their own home with children).

The report stated that about 97% of 18-year-olds fit into the first category. About 90% of 34-year-olds live in their own home, with 60% of that age demographic living with children.

Not surprisingly, On Their Own millennials are most likely to subscribe to a subscription video on demand service like Netflix or Hulu (78%), followed by Dependent Adults at 64%. While only 58% of Starting a Family millennials subscribe to SVOD, they are more likely to own a digital video recorder (47%), a DVD player (69%) and a tablet (65%) than the other groups, mostly due to the presence of children in the home.

Tablet ownership was lowest among On Their Own millennials, but that group used PCs, tablets and smartphones more than the other groups during the month of November, Nielsen said. On Their Own millennials spent more than 94 hours with those devices in November—about 10 more hours than all 18-34 year olds and about 18 more hours than Dependent Adults.

Overall, the average person aged18-34 spent about 2:45 each day watching live TV in the fourth quarter, 1:23 using TV-connected devices and 4:08 using a TV set for any purpose, according to the report. But again, life stage played a factor -- Dependent Adults watched live TV a little less (2:32), On Their Own millennials watched the least (2:06), but they also were out of the home the most. The latter group also had the lowest penetration of traditional multichannel video (72%), but the highest penetration of multimedia devices and access to SVOD.

As expected, millennials Starting a Family had the highest penetration of multichannel video services (79%), but also spent the most time at home of the three groups. These factors mean that the Starting a Family group watches the most live TV (3:16) and make the greatest total use of TV screen (4:40).