Smartphone main TV-platform for young media consumers

Smartphone main TV-platform for young media consumers When it comes to the future of TV, there is a widespread prediction that traditional broadcasters will be displaced by online streaming platforms. Especially young media consumers are thought to abandon linear broadcast schedules because of streaming services’ flexibility. However, the results of our digiMeter and Apestaartjaren studies provide sufficient evidence to nuance this apocalyptic scenario.

Youngsters hop from one screen to another

According to digiMeter, our yearly barometer of media use patterns, adolescents (18-26 year) tend to use ‘alternative’ screens such as computer, smartphone or tablet to view TV-like content more frequently than older generations. But, at least for the period observed, online platforms have not been displacing traditional television.
In fact,  the amount of time watching even increases year by year, which suggests that traditional and streaming platforms are complements rather than substitutes. In a multi-screen context, content is increasingly consumed at a moment (and place) determined by the viewer, linear and on-demand.

Smartphone challenges TV-dominance

Figures from Apestaartjaren, our biannual study mapping media use of children and youngsters between 12 and 18 in Flanders, confirm that new types of video consumption add to the total TV viewing time. Even more, the smartphone is challenging the traditional screen as the leading video platform – be it predominantly for short-form video distributed via social media: 73% watches daily via the TV-screen, 66% on a smartphone. Computers (55%) and tablets (35%) are widely used as alternatives.

The data confirm the enduring centrality of TV in youngsters and adolescents’ media use patterns. They provide further explanation for the efforts TV broadcasters (Medialaan, VRT and SBS) and distributors (Telenet and Proximus) have made (and will make) in providing TV-like content in a multi-platform environment. By addressing changing consumer patterns, media organisations are able to safeguard their future as leading gatekeeper in the digital ecosystem.  

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© Bart Vanhaelewyn

Bart Vanhaelewyn is Media Consumer Analyst at iMinds-MICT-UGent and co-ordinates the digiMeter study as well as other sector-related research updates.