The Multitasking Generations: 13-34 Year Olds Average 4-5 Other Activities While Watching TV

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New Study Examines the TV Consumption Habits of Generations X, Y and i Adults 18-24 and 25-34 Most Likely to Connect Social Media to TV Viewing; Teens Most Likely to Watch with Friends and Family

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“Many 13-34 year olds are multi-media multitaskers, but their social media activities vary depending on age group,” said Char Beales, president and CEO, Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM),

A new study released today, “Watching Gens X, Y & i,” paints a detailed portrait of 13-34 year old consumers and how they watch television: often while taking part in up to four or five activities all at the same time, from eating, cooking and cleaning to texting, surfing the web, emailing, playing games or listening to music.

“Many 13-34 year olds are multi-media multitaskers, but their social media activities vary depending on age group,” said Char Beales, president and CEO, Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), and head of the organization that commissioned the study.

Younger generations have been raised in an entertainment world where content is available anytime, anywhere and on numerous platforms. This study exposes what teens and young adults are watching, with whom they’re watching, where, how often and on what devices.

Although about half of 18-24 and 25-34 year olds follow or “like” TV networks/shows, only 38% of those 13-17 do. The leading social networking activities while watching TV are looking up info (31% of 13-34 year olds), discussing shows online (29%), posting updates/tweeting (24%) and visiting a network or show page (22%). However, these activities are almost twice as likely to be conducted among 18-24 and 25-34 year olds compared to teens.
Some additional findings include:

WHO influences their TV viewing?

  •     Friends and family are the most influential when deciding what to watch (77%) followed by previews (61%), browsing (56%) and ads (48%).
  •     One quarter of those 13-17, 24% of 18-24 and 21% of 25-34 year olds cited social networking as influential.

WHAT genres do they watch?

  •     Movies are the most popular genre among viewers ages 13-17 (56%), 18-24 (65%) and 25-34 (68%).
  •     54% of 13-17 year olds said they typically watch sitcoms/comedies and kids’ programming (both cartoon and non-cartoons), while the older 25-34 segment prefer sitcoms/comedies (63%), dramas (63%), news (57%) and reality (54%). The most-popular genre after movies for the 18-24 group is adult cartoons (65%).
  •     About 70% of young viewers are watching the same amount or more live TV compared to a year ago. Eighty one percent of young viewers say that live viewing on the TV is preferable for sports compared to other devices. Seventy one percent of young viewers prefer live TV viewing for watching new episodes. These same respondents also prefer (76%) live TV because it gives them something to talk about the next day.

WHERE do they watch?

  •     While in transit, mp3 players are the viewing device of choice for 13-17 year olds (20%) and 18-24 year olds (24%), while 25-34 year olds prefer a cell phone (19%).

HOW do they watch?

  •     “Mobile viewers” – those who watch online content on a phone, media player, tablet or other mobile device – are entertainment enthusiasts and early adopters (74%) with more technology in the home, and make up 34% of 18-24, 46% of 25-34 and 20% of 13-17 year olds. That said, only 12% of teens watch video on their cell phones.
  •     80% of mobile viewers are satisfied with cable and they are most likely to upgrade services, and watch more content on every device, including TVs (74%). (Overall, 8 out of 10 households pay for TV service, including 89% of those in which 13-17 live).

This research, conducted by C+R Research, was commissioned by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) to investigate the effect of lifestyles and life stages on media and technology usage of younger consumers. It included both qualitative and quantitative online phases in the summer of 2011, and also utilizes data from C+R’s comprehensive syndicated YouthBeat study to provide additional context. 2,124 total interviews were conducted as part of the quantitative phase.

CTAM, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, is a non-profit professional association, dedicated to helping the cable business grow. To that end, CTAM provides consumer research, an interactive executive innovation series, conferences, awards and the “CTAM SmartBrief” to its individual members. On behalf of 90 corporate members, the organization leads the Advanced Cable Solutions Consortium and Business Services Council, and facilitates national cooperative marketing efforts, including the Cable Mover Hotline® and Movies On Demand® initiatives. The corporate website is and CTAM can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

For Media Inquires contact:
Jason D. King, ABC
Director of Communications & Media Relations


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