Monthly Archives

March 2016

Digital Video Dominates Expanding Media Diet of 13-24 Year Old Viewers – Younger Audience Declare It’s The Content That Fills Their Day and Feeds Their Needs

By | Press Releases

Digital Video Dominates Expanding Media Diet of 13-24 Year Old Viewers –  Younger Audience Declare It’s The Content That Fills Their Day and Feeds Their Needs

Fourth Annual Acumen Report Finds Video Viewing Increasingly Social, but YouTube Still Rules This Set, While TV’s Spot Falls Further Behind

(Los Angeles, CA) March 27, 2016—DEFY Media, the top digital producer and programmer focused on the influential 13-34 demographic, today announced findings from its fourth annual ACUMEN Report: YouthVideo Diet, conducted in partnership with Kelton Research and Hunter Qualitative. While last year’s findings illuminated 13-24 year old consumers’ deep connection with digital content and its rising stars – this year’s report focused on uncovering exactly where and when they’re watching, what they’re willing to pay for, and what ads they are willing to watch.

For the majority of today’s Gen Z and young millennial consumers, video is their daily lifeline. According to the report, they’re on “watch” from the start of their day (65% report viewing before school or work) straight through to the evening hours (67% watch while falling asleep), with barely a break in between. Moreover, despite academic or career pursuits, over 40% engage while at school or on the job.  Video platforms provide the connections they can’t live without – all day long – continuing to push TV further behind as a must have. Respondents unanimously shared video’s critical role in super-serving a diverse set of needs that TV just can’t satisfy, and that go well beyond daily amusement.

Since last year’s report, the industry has experienced an explosion of new video platforms which increase the total addressable market for video viewing but also raise competition for the coveted attention of young viewers,” commented Andy Tu, DEFY Media’s EVP of Marketing.” The findings prove younger audiences’ increasing appetite for digital video that’s satisfying a diverse set of needs, and the importance of understanding preferences or risk being easily tuned out.”

  The survey includes both quantitative and qualitative research methods, to provide a comprehensive and thoughtful view of Gen Z and young Millennials media behaviors, content consumption and influencers.

Daily Requirements

Video consumption is now an essential part of younger audience’s daily intake – as natural to them as the required dose of sleeping and eating – and with a growing supply of media platforms catering to their content cravings, that share of the pie continues to widen.  Interestingly, convenience remains an important but not necessary precondition to viewing, with respondents sharing a high propensity for watching videos on a laptop or desktop (66% vs. 76% for smartphone).

Among the most highly-viewed video platforms, the reports shows that YouTube still reigns with 85% of respondents stating it’s their #1 go-to. Netflix falls just behind at 66%, TV at 62%, and Facebook, 53%.    But, when it comes to the sources they “CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT”, TV seems to be the first sacrifice.  YouTube is the clear winner again at 67%, Netflix at 51%, with social media sources (net of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Tumblr) coming close at 48% as video play significantly rises on these platforms. TV falls to almost half that of YouTube, with only 36% stating they can’t live without the traditional tube.

Yet, there is a divide – it appears that age does matter when you get past these sources.  For younger viewers ages 13-18, their next “must-have” is Vine. For the older set (19-24), Hulu and Blu-Ray/DVD show priority.  

Social (Video) Climbing

 While we know that younger audiences are inherently social and it comes as no surprise that social media drives their daily connections and need for self-expression, this year we see the bold emergence of video consumption across these platforms.  In fact – and most telling – are the results showing that for Facebook, more consumers (60%) use the platform for social and video vs. 40% for social purpose alone. That’s a jump from use across other  platforms like Instagram and Snapchat where video and social vs. just social use is on par (48% vs. 52% for both) and where Twitter and Tumblr have also grabbed a small portion of that pie (31% and 30%, respectively) .

And while one may assume viewers are primarily watching videos of family and friends across these platforms, the report highlights that only 14% view this type of video on social media. Twenty-four percent say they watch mostly videos featuring their favorite digital celebs, with that same percentage reported for videos with people they do not know personally, such as pranks or fails popular with this audience.  When asked if they watch video of TV/Movie stars, just half that figure (11%) said yes.

Time spent watching video further emphasizes viewer’s affinity for social video.  Reported time spent watching video on social and free online sources combined equaled 12.1 hours weekly,  trumping viewing on either subscription services (such as Netflix, Amazon or Hulu, among others) which tallied at 8.8 or Cable/Satellite TV which landed at 8.2 hours when compared.

 So Satisfying

 As part of this year’s report, Acumen explores the different needs that various video platforms may meet throughout the day.  For these 13-24 year old consumers, boredom is not an option. While 77% turn to digital video for those “boredom killer” moments, it turns out that youth can’t live without it because of many other needs these platforms fulfill.

Digital video satisfies a wide variety of needs respondents stated as priorities  – whether it’s a mood lifter (57%), stress reliever (61%), the reason to stay up to date on what’s trending or new (60%), to learn how to do something (47%) or to lull oneself to sleep (44%).  Digital video was also not only for solo viewing – 58%  say it’s about family together time. The rise in digital video can be attributed to more than just accessibility; it also caters to a broader set of need states beyond sheer amusement.

Cord Cutting vs. Cost Cutting

  TV still has a role, but its terrestrial nature and the fact they don’t view the content or personalities as relevant or relatable continues to challenge its place in their daily diet – and in the household – a hefty 38% of those surveyed stated they did not have a cable/satellite box.  Of this set, the financially independent respondents made it clear that the choice not to subscribe is not always about the economics.  While 40% say there are less expensive options, 24% are just not interested in the content TV offers.  For those that can afford it, almost 20% say the cost is not worthwhile.  For those whose households do have a cable connection, the cord is another benefit of still living under mom and dad’s roof, where someone else still foots the bill. When financially dependent youth leave home, just 56% say they plan to subscribe to cable/satellite TV compared to 86% who plan to subscribe to Netflix.

When it comes to certain digital video connections, responses show some things are worth paying for,  or at least paying for some of the cost. Among users almost half (48%) report paying for a sports app, while Amazon gets support from 50% of youth, 55% for Hulu, and 56% for HBO or Showtime apps.

 Appetizing Ads

 Last year’s Acumen report revealed the growing and significant influence of YouTube personalities, as well as viewer’s preference for content featuring these new digital celebs (43% of 13-17 year olds opened content featuring their favorite talents).  That study also showed 63% would try a product or brand recommended by a You Tube star vs. 48% by a TV/Movie star.  This year Acumen dug deeper into that connection to uncover what message matters to them and answer whether all ads are created equal?

Growing ease to ‘ad block’ is giving rise to industry fears that interrupting young audiences valuable space and time comes with the real risk they will, and can, turn you off forever. The strength of digital talents’ relationship with their viewers has also given rise to more marketers leveraging the power of these influencers to break through youth’s screens in a more meaningful and entertaining manner.   These savvy viewers know they can turn you off, but they also understand it’s just business and are willing to watch so their favorite personalities can earn.  Sixty-three percent agree that digital celebrities need ads on their channels to make a living and a significant 58% say they don’t mind watching ads to support them.

But, how those advertisements are delivered still matters. While pre-roll continues to drop in favor – just over half (53% ) are ok with that 1-minute spot while still preferring a 15- second commercial which gets that figure to 80%, it’s the well- produced branded content or non-invasive intro/outro that rises to the top with this group.  A whopping 89% say the 5 –second intro featuring a brand sponsor is always or sometimes “OK” (88% for the end screen), 87% approve of product placement in a video, the same goes for digital talents actually demonstrating a product or calling out a sponsor.

For more on what’s driving youth’s media preferences, DEFY Media recently partnered with VARIETY for a deep dive into SNAPCHAT’s rising status with this audience – read it here.


DEFY Media partnered with Hunter Qualitative and Kelton Global to research the Youth Video Diet. From greater Chicago, Raleigh-Durham and Seattle, 54 youth ages 13-24 years were selected to complete 14-day journals chronicling the videos watched daily and providing information on habits and opinions.  Twenty seven of these youth were interviewed in-person―eighteen ages 13-17 in “buddy pairs” and nine ages 19-24 individually. These interviews were followed with an online survey of 1,300 youth ages 13-24 representative of the U.S. population by age, gender, ethnicity/race and parental education.


About DEFY Media

DEFY Media is the top digital producer and programmer for 13-34 year olds, and the largest owner of YouTube channels and leading media brands across the comedy, lifestyle and gaming verticals. Each month, DEFY-produced content generates 600 million video views and reaches 125 million viewers across our 60 million YouTube subscribers, 80 million unique web visitors and consumers of our apps, which have been downloaded over 25 million times. DEFY Media brands include Smosh, recently named by Variety as the top brand for 13-17 year olds, Break, known for its top program “Prank It Forward”™, and Screen Junkies, home to the highly influential digital series “Honest Trailers”. The world’s top brands partner with DEFY to build immersive advertising solutions that deliver unparalleled access to this influential audience. With uniquely integrated capabilities in content development, studio production, distribution and promotion, DEFY Media is built for content delivery in the digital age. Please visit us at 

Millennials Want “Fast” Food

By | Acumen Insights

A study from the Hartman Group and reported by Forbes found millennial food shoppers and diners value ease and convenience, yet are open to the adventure of trying something new. Sixty percent of respondents say they enjoy cooking, while 44 percent say they would love to cook more. Convenience and efficiency are a priority for millennial diners, hence the fact that 41 percent of Millennials enjoy eating fast food. The study found 20 to 30 minutes is considered the sweet spot for meal preparation among Millennials, though for nearly a fifth of millennial parents, 40 to 50 minutes is the ideal length of time for meal prep, suggesting cooking is more important for young families.

Compared to other generations Millennials are more likely to be gender neutral when it comes to cooking, with a nearly even 61 percent of females and 60 percent of males saying they enjoy cooking. Additionally, Millennials are more likely than older counterparts to seek out adventure when it comes to food. Forty percent like to try new kinds of ethnic cuisines or “anything new and different,” compared to 34 percent and 32 percent of Gen X and Baby Boomers. As a whole, Millennials trend towards vegetarian with 6 percent identifying as such and 12 percent reporting they often stay away from meat.

To Cut or Not to Cut

By | Acumen Insights

While the younger generation watches most video content online, they are in no rush to cancel their cable/satellite/telco subscriptions. An Evercore ISI Group study of Millennials reported by Multichannel News found more than half aged 13-to-35 say they are unlikely or somewhat unlikely to replace traditional pay TV with online video. About 10 percent of 24-to-29 year olds say they are likely to cut the cord, with less than 10 percent of the other age groups selecting this option. Nearly 20 percent of those age 24-to-29 and 30-to-35 say they have already cut the cord while 10 percent of those age 18-to-23 dropped their pay TV packages.

The survey found viewing habits change with age, such as 42 percent of 13-to-17 year olds watching video on laptops that jumps to 65 percent for 18-to-23 year olds. In terms of mobile viewing, 25 percent of 13-to-17 year olds and 10 percent of 30-to-35 year olds use mobile devices to view videos.

One thing all age groups agree on is the online content site they watch the most – Netflix; in second place is YouTube. Females say 33 percent of the online video sites they watch are free while 67 percent are pay sites. In contrast, males say 45 percent of video sites they view are free and 55 percent charge a fee.

Winner Take All

By | Acumen Insights

Understanding how Millennials approach their work environment is increasingly important for employers. According to a poll from consulting firm CEB as reported by The Economist, Millennials born between 1980 and 2000 are a highly competitive group particularly in comparison to older generations. Fifty-nine percent of Millennials say competition is “what gets them up in the morning,” compared with 50 percent of Baby Boomers. Some 58 percent of Millennials say they compare their performance with their peers versus 48 percent for other generations. At the same time 37 percent of Millennials say they do not trust their peers’ input at work; the average was just 26 percent for other generations.

In terms of investment in their careers, 33 percent of Millennials put “future career opportunity” among their top five reasons for choosing a job, compared with 21 percent for other generations. A separate poll found 41 percent of Millennials agree “employees should do what their manager tells them, even when they can’t see the reason for it,” compared with 30 percent of Baby Boomers. Furthermore, 90 percent of Millennials say they want to receive their performance evaluations and discuss career plans face-to-face.

Millennials Want Their TVE

By | Acumen Insights

Survey data from consulting firm Altman Vilandrie & Company and entertainment network EPIX indicates 17 percent of households do not pay for TV services of any kind. Millennials (ages 18 to 34) are significantly less likely to subscribe to pay TV services (72 percent) than consumers over 35 (86 percent). Forecasts from Forrester Research reported by Multichannel News show only 50 percent of TV viewers under age 32 will pay for traditional TV services by 2025.

Altman Vilandrie says Millennials represent just 20 percent of pay TV subscribers, but make up 37 percent of the consumers who have dropped their TV subscriptions (“cord-cutters”) or eschew pay TV altogether (“cord-nevers”). Forrester Research offers similar levels estimating 35 percent of younger viewers are cord-cutters or cord-nevers.

Yet the availability of services that allow viewers to watch on-demand and live TV using their pay TV login information, commonly known as TV Everywhere (TVE), could help the curb cord-cutting phenomenon. Altman Vilandrie found younger millennial subscribers (18 to 24 years old) are 23 percent less likely to explore TV alternatives if they know their provider offers TVE. Additionally, 54 percent of young Millennials and 47 percent of older Millennials who do not have multichannel video service agree they would be more likely to consider subscribing to pay TV if they could watch content on devices other than their TVs. Among all TVE users, Millennials are twice as likely as consumers over 35 to use TVE to view movies (38 percent vs. 16 percent), live TV shows (30 percent vs. 15 percent) pre-recorded TV shows (33 percent vs. 15 percent) and live sports (31 percent vs. 12 percent).

Who’s Paying for News?

By | Acumen Insights

Despite having abundant access to free online entertainment and news, today’s young adults use significant amounts of paid content for entertainment and news purposes. A report from the Media Insight Project found 93 percent of Millennials regularly use some sort of paid content of any kind, and 87 percent have personally paid for such a subscription. In terms of news, 53 percent of Millennials report regularly using paid news content – in print, digital or combined formats – in the last year. The most popular paid news subscriptions regularly used by Millennials are print magazines, (30 percent), and print newspapers, (29 percent). About one in five Millennials personally pay for a print magazine (21 percent) and 15 percent pay for a print newspaper, which makes such print subscriptions and products the two most popular forms of paid news. In total, 29 percent of Millennials pay for any print subscription or product, and 25 percent pay for some type of digital news.

The study found older Millennials, those over the age of 21, are about twice as likely as those age 18-21 to pay for news personally. Forty-four percent of those ages 30-34 pay for news out of their own pocket, as do 46 percent of those 25-29 and 45 percent of those 22-24 years, compared to 23 percent of those 18-21. Furthermore, while paying for news does not relate to social media use in general, it is associated with more news-related activities on social networks. On Facebook, for instance, those who pay for news are more likely than those who do not to post or share a news story they have read online (49 percent vs. 38 percent), to comment on a news story on Facebook (40 percent vs. 29), and to like a news story (65 percent vs. 56 percent).

Millennials Already Saving for Kids’ College

By | Acumen Insights

Findings from a college savings study conducted by Fidelity Investments’ and reported by Business Wire show an increase in college saving and planning practices among families nationwide. According to the results, saving for college has reached an all-time high, with 69 percent of families currently saving, an increase from 64 percent in 2014. Furthermore, parents intend to shoulder a greater amount of the cost of higher education for their children – 66 percent, continuing upward from 57 percent in 2012. However, while parents have lofty saving goals, they still have some work to do to achieve their objectives. American families are currently on track to save just 27 percent of their college funding goals by the time their child is college bound.

Millennial parents in particular (those born between 1981 and 1997) are determined to find ways for their children to avoid student loan debt. This generation plans to cover nearly three quarters (74 percent) of their children’s college costs, and nearly half (46 percent) intend to bankroll their children’s full college tuition.  Seventy-one percent of millennial parents are actively saving for their children’s college tuition and 68 percent have a plan in place to help to them save for this goal and stay on track.

Finally, the study found millennial parents are seeking out financial advisors to help with college savings at a significantly higher rate than their counterparts of the same age in 2007. When looking at all millennial parents, more than one-third (35 percent) have established a relationship with an advisor in an effort to obtain guidance for their college planning. Of these parents, more than three-quarters (78 percent) say working with an advisor has helped them get closer to their goal.

Musical Tribes Among Millennials

By | Acumen Insights

An in-depth analysis of the role of music in Millennials’ lives establishes music as a major force of social connection. A study from Vevo found there are over 10 times more conversations about music on social media than there are about TV, and 72 percent of respondents say music helps them connect with friends and family. Furthermore, 65 percent of avid music fans belong to a “fan army,” or groups that devote time, energy and creativity, building relationships with both artists and other fans.

Vevo’s study breaks down millennial music fans into four tribes: Talent Scouts, or tastemakers who constantly seek out new talent and hot tracks, Front Row Fans, who crave music and use it to express themselves, Crowdsurfers, who are constant consumers of entertainment content, and Soloists, for whom music is more of an individual experience than a shared one. All tribes use a variety of services to consume music, yet Crowdsurfers are most likely to pay for a music subscription, and 56 percent of this tribe currently pay for such subscriptions. Among Talent Scouts, 48 percent currently pay for a music service subscription, while 27 percent of Soloists and 16 percent of Front Row fans do so.

Across the tribes, Millennials’ passion for music translates into respect for musical celebrities. When asked how music celebrities compare to other superstars, 51 percent of respondents say musical celebrities have the most talent, while just 18 percent say the same about Hollywood stars and only 12 percent agreed with the statement for online icons. Similarly, 35 percent say they admire musical celebrities the most, while only 17 percent and 12 percent say the same for Hollywood and online celebrities respectively.