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New research finds Gen Z prefer social video over TV

Streaming giants such as Netflix, Disney +, and Paramount could be facing problems in the future, as a new study finds Gen Zers prefer social video and live streaming over traditional television shows.

Remember the days when your family would settle down for the evening, turn on the TV, and jump into the latest episode of Doctor Who? If you’re a younger Gen Zer, you probably don’t.

New research conducted by Deloitte has found that young people prefer to watch social video and livestreams twice as much as traditional TV shows and four times as much as movies.

As part of Deloitte’s 18th annual Digital Media Trends Survey, 3,517 participants were interviewed online in October 2023. The findings were published March 20th, 2024.

Deloitte’s research found that only 33% of Millennials prefer social video and livestreams, while 27% prefer TV. 18% prefer movies. So, while older folks are still opting for video on their phones and tablets over television, Millennials are doing it less so, with a stronger taste for traditional media compared to Gen Zers.

Still, all these numbers will be troubling to the streaming giants, who have spent billions trying to replicate TV within their own platforms. Are Netflix, Paramount, Warner Bros, and many more misdirecting their efforts by trying to impersonate traditional TV formats?

The research suggests they may need to pivot toward more social-focused and creator-led experiences.

In fact, studies suggest that social media video platforms such as YouTube are likely to have a brighter future than traditional streaming, thanks to an emphasis on individualist content and greater accessibility.

Most of the cost associated with video content via YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch is passed on to the creator, rather than the platform itself. These influencers and creators then receive income through endorsements, sponsorships, and ad-revenue.

This model means that social video platforms have much lower production costs than, say, Netflix, who has poured considerable amounts of money into its high-budget shows like Stranger Things and The Crown. In order to see a return in investment, streaming companies have now begun rolling out optional in-app advertisements, bundle deals, and time-sensitive contracts.

Deloitte reckons this won’t be enough to give them the competitive edge over social video.

In fact, social media and creators are actually a key pull-in for streaming platforms. This year’s research found that people are now turning to influencers and social media to find what’s ‘new and exciting’ rather than traditional advertisements.

This could mean that massive marketing campaigns for TV shows may be less effective than creator-driven endorsements, especially as Gen Z begins to dominate the market.

Ultimately, social video has the competitive edge on younger generations of viewers.

It is algorithmic, designed to mirror our specific interests, and perhaps most importantly, is completely free. Users don’t need to search for what they want, and can jump in and out at a moment’s notice.

Traditional TV can seem laborious in comparison, especially when considering Gen Z is believed to have an attention span of eight seconds.

Netflix, Amazon, and the rest of the streaming platforms may need to rethink their strategies for younger consumers. With so many options, and each one costing roughly £10 – £15 a month in subscription costs, their appeal has faded over time compared to a decade ago.

They’ll need to adapt and embrace the creator-focused world we are blazing full steam ahead into.

You can read the full report here.