VAB Study: Millennial Viewers Attached to TV Programming

In another attempt to counter the perception that young people are flocking away from TV, the Video Advertising Bureau released a new study showing that millennials are emotionally connected to TV programming and buy the products that are advertised there.

TV advertising revenue has been largely flat as media buyers watch eyeballs, particularly of young viewers, move to digital platforms and streaming services.

But the VAB found that millennials--those in the 18 to 34 age bracket--say they are connected to TV shows and their characters. And that emotional attachment is important because “someone who is highly attached is three times more likely to engage with the brand,” the report said. “They are less price sensitive, go deeper into the product line and have a higher lifetime value to an advertiser.”

The VAB commissioned Research Now to conduct the Program Engagement Survey fielded online in April 2018 with 1,000 adults surveyed. The respondents skewed slightly younger than the overall population but their TV consumption was line with the population.

The survey found that millennials feel a strong bond with TV programming. They regularly set aside time to watch their favorite programs and prioritize it as their “me time.”

Emotional connection inspires deeper program engagement among millennials, the report said. Young adult viewers are actively engaged beyond the TV airing – they share and post video clips, follow actors on social media, read recaps, and scour the web for behind-the-scenes scoop.

The survey found that the emotional connection viewers have with TV shows results in pop-culture-inspired activities, with 55% of millennial respondents using phrases from shows--like “Make It Work”-- in everyday conversations, or 45% following a recipe they saw on TV to make a dish or even 43% dressing up as a TV character on Halloween.

Importantly, engagement motivates purchase.

The survey found that 43% of millennials said they purchase a product they saw on a TV show. That’s higher than the 40% of all adults that said that. Similarly, 43% of millennials said the purchases a product they saw while watching a TV--either in the program or during an ad, compared to 25% of all adults.

Another 43% of millennials said they’ve eaten at a restaurant because it or its chef was featured in a TV show.

The relationship between millennials and ad-supported TV is stronger when it comes to their favorite programs. The survey found 44% of millennials say they watch their favorite shows on broadcast or cable, topping Netflix (25%), Hulu, 12%, Amazon Prime (10%) or other streaming (8%).

Millennials don’t feel the same immediacy or sense of community around original YouTube videos as they do for TV, the survey found.

“Millennials are drawn into TV’s complex storylines, rich character development and well - known talent resulting in an unmatched emotional response,” the report said adding that millennials feel a stronger connection with TV characters and actors than to YouTube.

In the survey 73% of the millennials said “I feel personally connected to the characters of my favorite TV programs” 73% compared to 47% who felt that way about their favorite YouTube personality.

Millennials are 19% more likely to purchase a product shown or featured during ad supported TV than they are a product featured by their favorite YouTube personality, the study said.

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.