The economic lifecycle of technology is much like the career of a heavyweight champion. It starts off small, trying to get name recognition; working tirelessly to get ahead of its opponents, until finally it gets a shot at the title. It gets the spotlight in a primetime event and after years of scratching and clawing to the top it finally showcases itself to the world and claims the title on a national stage. The glory and fame is fleeting however as every single day new contenders are grinding to take its spot.
For years television has been the champ of video delivery. It has reigned supreme over all competition, constantly evolving and bettering itself to stay current with the times. Much like a fighter, it has cut weight, became more colorful, and has done whatever it could to make sure the audience keeps coming back.
Unfortunately, no matter how good a fighter is, there is always a certain shelf life attached. Maybe he’s lost the hunger. His knees may have gotten weak. He could have just gotten too old. But no matter who you are - Muhammad Ali, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, or Mike Tyson - eventually your reign will come to an end and you will fall to the canvas, just like the guy before you and the guy before him.
I recently developed a survey analyzing the video consumption habits of different age groups, specifically millennials. After only one week I have already received 100 responses. Although this is a fairly small sample size, the opinions I received each revealed interesting trends. The major theme I learned? There may be a new juggernaut in the way we view media. That goliath’s name? Subscription video on demand, or SVOD. Players like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have taken over the television landscape, particularly in those aged 18-24.
According to my data, 97% of people aged 18-24 (millennials) watch Netflix regularly. That number is staggering, especially when compared to television numbers for that same age group. One SVOD app alone is being used by almost 100% of all millennials who took my survey, while programmed television is only used by 68% of millennials. That’s a difference of 29% of the same age group who are watching Netflix instead of television.
If you lump all of SVOD services together as a whole and compare it to programmed television viewership for millennials, it’s another knockout blow in favor of SVOD. 83% of millennials said they preferred SVOD to live television. Even more interesting is that 72% of millennials watch five hours or more of SVOD each week, whereas only 22% of the same age group watch five hours or more of programmed television each week. Think about that for a second: more than three quarters of people ages 18-24 watch less than five hours of live television each week. Perhaps the most notable part is 32% of 18-24 year olds claim they don’t watch any programmed television at all.
What the data shows is that 18-24 year olds really aren’t that interested in standard cable or satellite television. Conversely, people 25 and older are much more inclined to watch programmed television rather than SVOD. 58% of people 25 and up prefer programmed television to SVOD. Whereas only 22% of millennials watch more than five hours of television each week, 45% of people older than 25 watch at least five hours of regular TV each week.
In terms of sample size 100 people may just be a drop in the bucket, but even so the data overwhelmingly shows that SVOD is becoming the new way that we enjoy media. Overall television is still king, but SVOD is right on its heels, getting ready to take the belt. The millennial generation is coming of age and they are starting to gain buying power. This is a huge market of consumers who are shunning old-fashioned television altogether and opting for the sleeker, newer model. SVOD is here and is ready to rumble. If television is Tyson, SVOD just might be Buster Douglas.
Alex Bernstein is a summer marketing intern at SeaChange and a sophomore at Quinnipiac University. As part of his internship, he's investigating how millennials consume video.