Millennials and TV: Big Appetites, Little Patience

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Digital consumption is experiencing breakneck growth in India, after media and telecoms disruptor Reliance Jio burst onto the scene in September 2016. The telco’s introductory offer of unlimited 4G data – bundled with a suite of value-added offerings, including premium video – attracted 72.4 million active subscriptions within four months of launch. According to the Reliance Jio website, its subscribers were consuming around 25x more data than the average Indian broadband user.


With more competition in the market, service providers are under pressure to deliver increased choice and improved access to content. Failure to achieve this could mean frustrated and disengaged users. Millennials, the demographic born between 1981 and 1995, are in the eye of this storm.

According to a report by TiVo2, Millennials consume the most content across the largest number of devices; on average, spending 6.2 hours per day watching and streaming content, 32 minutes per day searching for content, and using three streaming devices in the home. Due to these prolific consumption habits, they are also more prone to feeling frustrated when they cannot easily access the content they want to watch.

As the first generation to grow up in an era where IP connected devices and services are ubiquitous, Millennials have formed exceptionally high expectations for cross-platform discovery solutions. However, these expectations remain largely unmet. With an estimated 411 million Millennials in India, accounting for 30.6% of the country's total population3, content owners and providers in India must work to create a discovery experience that appeals to this generation, capturing their continued interest, engagement and satisfaction.


‘Show dumping’ millennials

Many consumers are saturated with a plethora of services, from pay-TV, over-the-top (OTT), subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), across multiple devices and platforms, such as streaming devices, set-top boxes, mobile devices and apps. TiVo found that when consumers cannot seamlessly start watching a piece of content on one platform and continue watching on another – or if content mysteriously disappears from an existing service due to licensing windows or if viewers have to pay for content – they are more likely to ‘show dump’ and give up on content when it becomes too difficult or costly to access. In these situations, millennials are particularly unforgiving.

In the same report, TiVo revealed that 54 percent of millennials have ‘show dumped,’ compared to just 36 percent of Gen X viewers (born between 1965 and 1980) and 17 percent of Boomers (born from 1946 to 1964). In addition, 73 percent of Millennials have streaming video devices at home, compared to Gen X at 57 percent and Boomers at 29 percent. Millennials also prepared to spend more, with 91 percent paying for at least one subscription streaming service, compared to Gen X at 72 percent and Boomers at 50 percent. The study also revealed a similar “show dumping’ trend amongst Gen Z (those born after 1995).


With high consumption habits and a large majority of millennials paying for content, it’s no wonder they have such high expectations for cross-platform discovery solutions that allow a seamless, stress-free entertainment discovery experience. These figures suggest that the entertainment industry is fragmented and content owners and providers that rely on loyalty and continued engagement from their viewers need to be more conscious of how content availability affects the viewing experience, especially for Millennials.

Improving the entertainment experience

Consumers clearly feel that there is room for improvement when it comes to search and discovery; TiVo found that 55 percent of Millennials would even pay to simplify their search experience across platforms. To rise above the noise, content owners must ensure that their services are available across as many devices and platforms as possible so that consumers can search and discover content that’s relevant to them on their preferred platform. By doing this, content owners can sustain Millennial viewership and prevent show dumping before it happens.


Whether Millennials and future generations are binge watchers, committed viewers or season show fanatics, enabling easy, intuitive experiences will also help them to navigate the ‘content chaos’ and enjoy what they want to watch, whenever and wherever they want to watch it. Millennials are particularly keen to stay on top of the latest trends in both technology and the shows they watch, whether via browsing or recommendations. Indeed, TiVo revealed that 53 percent of Millennials often expect recommendations on what to watch next. It is therefore essential that consumers are provided with personalised predictions and recommendations from their entertainment guide, offering them a coherent experience across all potential platforms.

Content owners must be mindful of fragmented access and pay structures, where applicable. Longer term viewership continuity and the value of a property over time should be considered against short term licensing incentives that prevents viewers from accessing content in a seamless, continuous fashion.

The future entertainment experience

With smartphone penetration in India projected to reach 520 million by 2020, Ernst & Young India predicts a significant increase in different formats of media being consumed online across episodes, films, short form content, news, gaming, social interaction and education. This means that the entertainment search and discovery process of the future will be much more hands on and interactive for these ‘mobile first’ generations. In addition to delivering a seamless and consistent entertainment discovery experience, Millennials will also expect to see much more in the way of conversational guidance technologies.

To become fully functional and effective for users, voice technologies must be backed by sophisticated search capabilities, such as dynamic, semantically linked knowledge graphs coupled with deep metadata. Ultimately, by building an entertainment experience that includes that latest search and discovery solutions, Millennials will be more inclined to engage with their favourite shows and keep watching them for longer, and less likely to ‘show dump.’

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