TV's Effect on Millennials? Not Necessarily Minimal

Author: Jen King

September 25, 2018

Millennials may not watch as much TV as previous generations, but their engagement with the TV content they do watch may actually be deeper than other groups.

Among other things, millennials follow actors on social media, read online recaps and try to avoid spoilers in their social media news feeds. What’s more, TV shows influence millennial purchasing behavior as well, according to recent findings from the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB).

In its April 2018 survey of 1,001 US internet users, millennials told VAB that what they see on TV “always" or "frequently” inspires them to make a purchase. Some 43% of millennial internet users in the US said their decision was influenced by product placement or an advertisement that ran during a show.

For the most part, what’s featured or shown during a TV program is as influential as its commercial breaks. In fact, millennials were slightly more likely than adults in general to purchase a product, eat at a certain restaurant or vacation at a specific location after it was featured on TV.

“Digital resources can deepen [millennials’] involvement with a TV show, and it’s not surprising that VAB polling finds lots of millennials follow shows and characters on social media, tweet about shows and so on,” said eMarketer analyst Mark Dolliver. “And since involvement with favorite shows is not merely passive, it makes sense that millennials could be more inclined than adults in general to take action due to a show, like buying things they see within the show or in ads that accompany it.”

However influential “as seen on TV” can be to drive purchases, millennials don’t spend much time watching TV.

According to eMarketer’s numbers, US consumers between the ages of 18 and 24, and those 25 to 34, spend 93 and 128 minutes watching TV per day, respectively, whereas older consumers (ages 45 to 54) watch 240 minutes per day on average.

Indeed, 36% of US millennials, according to a June 2018 Magid survey, watch live cable or satellite TV, and about one-third stream content to a connected TV for more than 3 hours per day.