Gen Z Streaming Behaviors

  • Leah Zitter
  • October 22, 2019

Called the “true” generation, Gen Z, aged 5-24, are tech-savvy, value individual expression, avoid labels, are more invested in making a difference than earlier generations, and dislike control. Such qualities influence their streaming habits in the following ways.

  • Time spent streaming – Trifecta Research reports that teenaged Gen Zers (13-18) average as much as nine hours a day streaming, with tweens (8-12) averaging around six hours of entertainment media daily. That’s more than Millennials and earlier generations. 
  • TV versus Streaming –  For Gen Zers, cable TV takes the back burner, with Gen Zers watching traditional TV  29% of the time versus streaming at 59%.  Put another way, 31% of Gen Zers watch cable TV less than two hours a day. Tweens prefer cable TV to streaming, while teens spend more time streaming than watching cable TV. As confirmed by our own Streamlytics survey, preference for traditional TV dwindles with the generations.
  • Popular genres – According to Trifecta, the most popular media activities among both teens and tweens are watching streamed TV and videos and listening to music. That’s around more than two hours on TV and videos for both age groups, while teens tend to listen to more music than tweens (1:54 minutes a day versus :51 minutes a day), according to that same study. Our own Streamlytics research shows far fewer African-Americans stream music as compared to those who stream videos/ TV (27% v. 73%) and that the market remains mostly dominated by males. Other reports find Gen Zers prefer comedy, sci-fi, and fantasy, with some observers suggesting this indicates they’re looking for inspiration.
  • Popular platforms – Most reports confirm our results that Gen Zers prefer Netflix (38%), YouTube (29%) and Hulu (4%), followed by other streaming services (8%). In contrast, both the Grabyo Global Video Trends Report 2019 that surveyed nearly 10,000 people across seven countries, including America, and the financial services firm Piper Jaffray reported teens prefer YouTube to Netflix. These reports need not be contradictory since it’s Netflix that Gen Zers largely subscribe to, while YouTube remains the chosen free platform for watching social videos. (Civic Science, for instance, reports 72% of Gen Zers consume more than two hours of YouTube a day).
  • Music – From a music perspective, broadcast radio continues to cede share to internet radio and Gen Zers love Spotify more than older generations, although our Streamlytics survey showed a clear preference for Apple Music. 63% of Gen Zers value music, with a Gen Z Music Consumption & Spending Report revealing that nearly 97% of Gen Z listen to at least five musical genres on a regular basis. Spotify shows most Gen Zers turn to playlists of festivals and parties, as well as musical discoveries (like the Discoveries of the week).

Both Millennials and Gen Zers prefer Netflix and YouTube and gravitate to streamed videos rather than to TV. In contrast to a YPulse survey that claims the most popular video content among both Millennials and Gen Zers is comedy. Other reports find Millennials prefer drama to comedy, while our own Streamlytics survey confirmed those accounts. We found that African-American Millennials over-index shows on existentialist themes, technology, and social justice, as well as content on self-determination. 

Based on the available research, Gen Zers seem to be more focused than Millennials with what they’re watching, stream more music than Millennials, and are much more cautious about the content source.

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About Leah Zitter

Dr. Leah Zitter has a Ph.D. in Psychology Research with a focus on Behavioral Neuroscience and over a decade of experience as an analyst, covering emerging technology, innovation, and media. She trained as an investigative journalist at the Center for Near East Policy Research, is a researcher at heart and enjoys exploring technology’s impact on culture and society.