Screen Surfing

March 2nd, 2016

How Generations View TV Differently

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 3.57.11 PMTV is currently the leader in traditional advertising – that’s no secret. But just what do consumers think is in store for television and TV advertising? Will TV remain the leader? Is it already losing ground?

To try and gain a broader perspective on the topic, I interviewed a range of generations. I asked three 20-year-olds, three 40-year-olds and three 60-year-olds questions. What I hoped to find was some deeper insight into each individual demographic (as much as one can when interviewing three people to represent an entire generation), but what I ended up getting was more of a unique view on the psyche and watching-habits of the average 20-year-old. As well as where the entire group thinks TV will be in 10 years.

Here are a few of the more interesting things I discovered.

60-year-olds watch twice as much TV as 20-year-olds.

20-year-olds: They all said they watch about 2 hours per day.
40-year-olds: They all said they watch between 2-4 hours per day.
60-year-olds: They all said they watch between 6-8 hours per day.

While 20-year-olds don’t often watch TV, when they do, they do so online.

Melanie: “I spend a lot less time watching TV and more time watching via another screen, whether it’s my laptop or my iPad or even my phone.”
Taylor: “I have friends who are not even purchasing cable for their apartments.”
Collin: “TV is something that can be done without.
I mainly would just watch TV for the news and then everything else I can get off of Netflix or something else.”

Two of the 20-year-olds think that the next generation doesn’t have the same sense of family bonding.

Melanie: “Many of the kids I babysit prefer to watch shows and movies on their iPads. They don’t have to compromise on a movie. I hate this and love that TVs can be family bonding, like watching a movie together.”
Taylor: “Before we had DVR, I remember my parents planning dinner and other things around TV, like having to eat and clean the kitchen before West Wing or Survivor came on. It was so important to them that we spent that time watching together as a family.”

When asking the question, “Where do you see TV in the next 10 years?”, I got similar answers across the board.


Melanie: “People will move toward transportable means, such as a tablet or a laptop.”
Taylor: “Traditional TV will be gone.”
Collin: “I think they’re going to do away with cable providers and it’ll be more or less like a subscription service, like on Apple TV. And I can pretty much buy just certain channels.”


Jeremy: “Sports programming is going to continue to change the landscape of TV. That’s the only thing people want to watch live. The rest of our programming is going to have to adapt to
a-la-carte watching.”
Eric: “Hopefully we’ll have something more affordable for people other than dish or cable – like a pay-by-channel system. I see more people going away
from TV and onto other things like Netflix, etc.”
Stacy: “I think it’s going to go to more streaming. More and more people are getting rid of contracts. You can go onto Amazon, Netflix, Hulu. It’s more affordable.”


Dennis: “There are going to be more channels catered to what you want. And you can get the price down based on what you want to watch.”
Sue: “Everything will be combined – Internet, TV and telephone. I anticipate that TV will become more interactive with the viewer.”
Carolyn: “It’ll all go to paid-for channels.”

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that TV is changing with every new generation. Obviously. But just this tiny glimpse into the opinions of these generations tells me that a big shift in the way people buy and watch television is probably coming sooner than later. Question now is, how will marketers adapt?

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