Does Multiplatform Media Consumption Exist Across Generations?

It is considered intuitive that younger people use more diverse devices than older people in order to consume media – but does that mean older adults don’t use any technology to get their news or enjoy television shows and movies? As our world and news cycle becomes faster-paced, in what ways are older generations making attempts to keep up with new media platforms? And how much further ahead of the curve are younger generations, really? To answer these questions, Scarborough reveals the ways American adults are consuming media across platforms and across generations.

Millennials* are at the front of the technology curve in terms of device usage, but what is critical to note is that, despite using less “traditional” platforms to consume media, they are still accessing similar types of  information as other generations. While Millennials are 42 percent more likely than all U.S. adults to live in a household with no television service, they are more than twice as likely to have used the internet in the past 30 days to watch television and movies. Additionally, while they are 40 percent less likely to read a print or e-edition newspaper, 35 percent of Millennials have visited a newspaper or television website in the past 30 days and 20 percent used a mobile device to read the news; they are 54 percent more likely than all U.S. adults to do so.

Generation X*, while close to Millennials in many of their media consumption preferences, live in households that used more Video-On-Demand services in the past 30 days than all U.S. adults. GenX over-index by more than 22% for every VOD category measured by Scarborough. In addition, GenX are 26 percent more likely to have used the internet in the past 30 days to watch movies and 25 percent more likely to have used the internet to watch television shows in the same time frame. GenX are more likely to read any print or e-edition newspaper than Millennials, though they are still less likely to do so overall. Interestingly, GenX are still 28 percent more likely than all US. adults to have visited any newspaper or television website in the past seven days.

For Baby Boomers*, radio and newspaper are the desired methods for media consumption, though the devices they use for these activities are perhaps surprising. Boomers are 14 percent more likely than all U.S. adults to have listed to satellite radio in the past seven days and are 27 percent more likely to listen to the News/Talk/Information radio format. Forty-two percent of Boomers read a print or e-edition newspaper, making them 16 percent more likely than all U.S. adults to do so. Boomers are also showing interest in more portable methods of media consumption as 10 percent use a mobile device to read their news.

The Silent Generation* are 10 percent more likely than all U.S. adults to live in a household that subscribes to cable and have not yet embraced more digitized options for television viewing. They are, however, 56 percent more likely than all U.S. adults to read a print or e-edition newspaper. While the Silent Generation might be less likely than other generations to partake in media consumption across devices, it is clear that in some areas, these trends have started to reach them; 15 percent of the Silent Generation used the internet in the past 30 days to read national news, 11 percent visited a newspaper or television website in the past 30 days and 63 percent live in a household that currently owns a high-definition television.

While a “digital divide” might still exist between the youngest and oldest generations, it is clear that U.S. adults are all engaging with media across multiple devices and platforms. By tailoring marketing campaigns so that they are not device-specific, but rather cross-platform, brands and media makers can situate themselves with generations that are digitally oriented, as well as generations that are not as technologically-focused. What’s most important is that everyone is tuning in and paying attention, regardless of their device-of-choice!

*Scarborough defines the different American generations as Millennials (age 18-29), Generation X (30-44), Baby Boomers (45-64) and the Silent Generation (65+).

SOURCE: Scarborough USA+ Study, Release 1, 2012.

Want more generational insights? Email Scarborough today!

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