Podcasts are surging. Fifty-six percent of Americans are listening to them, up from 49% in 2020 in a continuance of a sharp upward trend, according to new survey data.
What’s more, nearly 93% of us spend some part of our day on social media, with YouTube and Facebook as the favorite platforms. We’re all spending less time watching the news.
This data comes courtesy of the third annual US Media Consumption Report, produced by consumer research platform Attest.
Consistent with other findings showing a massive shift to streaming platforms, the poll charts that Americans watching streaming media (82.8%) has surpassed those who watch live broadcasts (81%) for the first time.
Nearly one in five respondents even reported watching no live TV in 2021, up from 14% last year.
Unsurprisingly, Netflix is the nation’s favorite SVOD with nearly 70% of those surveyed having an active subscription. More than 50% have Amazon Prime Video, and nearly 37% pay for Disney Plus. HBO Max clocked in at 31.4%.
DOWNLOAD THE REPORT: US Media Consumption Report 2021 (Attest)
Of the 92.6% of Americans who engage with some social media, 32.5% do so for three or more hours per day. YouTube and Facebook dominate and are roughly neck and neck. However, more consumers check their Facebook daily (54.1%) compared to YouTube (45.3%), per the survey.
The survey breaks media consumption habits down into key demographics. Extractions from its finding include:
Gen Z (Ages 18-24)
Gen Z is doing more Netflixing than chilling — 44% of them stream 3+ hours a day. The largest number of Gen Zers said they watch 1-2 hours and 3-4 hours — 29% for each. Meanwhile 15% said they watch at least 5 hours a day. And just 5% said they generally don’t watch any on-demand TV.
When it comes to live TV, on the other hand, a sizable 29% generally don’t watch any, making them the demographic least likely to watch TV live.
Contrary to what their parents might believe, Gen Z is not spending most of its TV time watching reality TV — 35% said this is their most-watched genre. Drama came out on top for Gen Zers, with 55% saying this is what they watch most frequently, followed closely by comedy, with 54%.
TikTok is now one of Gen Z’s most frequently used social media platforms. Second only behind YouTube, 60% of people in this age group visit TikTok daily, which is the highest by a big margin (in comparison, only 28% of Millennials use TikTok daily). On the other hand, they’re the least likely demographic to visit Facebook daily (28%).
Meanwhile, Gen Z is the most likely demographic to be using Twitch, which specializes in streaming gaming content — 26% use it once a week or more. And their love of gaming can be seen in the amount of time they dedicate to it; 82% say they play games on a daily basis. They’re most likely to say they play for 1-2 hours (21%) each day.
And Gen Z can’t be beaten on their consumption of social media — they’re most likely to say they scroll for more than four hours a day (33%), which is way more than any of the older demographics.
Millennials (Ages 25-40)
Millennials show more love for live television than their younger counterparts, watching for longer periods of time. The single largest percentage say they watch live television for 1-2 hours per day (21%), closely followed by the 20% who watch 3-4 hours per day. They consume a similar quantity of on-demand TV, with 27% watching 1-2 hours per day and 43% watching 3+ hours. Millennials are the least likely generation to use TV on-demand services generally, with just 29% saying they don’t regularly use them.
It’s Millennials who lead the podcast charge, with 15% listening daily and 45% listening at least once a week. Meanwhile 34% said they never listen to podcasts.
There’s a lot of talk about Facebook’s dwindling popularity among young people, but the survey data reveals Millennials are still the biggest group of the platform’s daily users — 66% log on every day. Millennials are also the LinkedIn power users, with 28% using it weekly — this compares to just 16% of Gen X and 16% of Gen Z. YouTube is the second most popular platform among Millennials, with 51% using it daily and a whopping 82% weekly. Just 5% said they never use the video site. Taking third position is Instagram, with 44% of daily Millennial users.
Overall, the single largest percentage of Millennials (25%) say they spend between 30 minutes to one hour per day on social media, but 57% spend more time than this.
Gen X (Ages 41-56)
Watching live TV is still a big part of life for those in the Gen X age bracket — they’re most likely to say they watch more than six hours a day (14%). And they’re on a par with Boomers in the overall live TV figures — 61% watch up to four hours a day. Gen Xers are almost three times more likely than their Millennial counterparts to generally not watch any streamed TV (21%), but the second largest percentage watch 3-4 hours a day (17%).
When it comes to streaming providers, Gen X isn’t as wedded to Netflix as younger people — 65% subscribe, compared to 73% of Millennials. Amazon Prime still performs well, with 54% of Xers using it, and Disney+ has captured 30% of the demographic. TV on-demand services showed less emphatic results among Gen X. The biggest group (27%) use Peacock, closely followed by the 24% who use HBO Max. A chunky 48% said they don’t regularly use TV on-demand services.
Perhaps surprisingly, Gen Xers are less likely to be regular readers of physical newspapers and magazines than Millennials. In fact, Gen Xers are also more likely than Millennials to say they don’t read printed publications at all (47% never read a newspaper and 36% never read a magazine).
For brands wishing to target Gen X, they really need look no further than Facebook. After Millennials, this demographic is the biggest user of the platform, with 62% using it daily and a further 10% using it a few times a week. It blows their usage of any other social media platforms out of the water, with daily usage of the top three closest competitors at 42% for YouTube, 26% for Instagram and 15% for Twitter.
There’s a far lower adoption of TikTok among Gen X — 63% say they never use it (although those that do are using US Gen X’s social media and gaming habits it fairly frequently), while they’re not using Snapchat much either (64% don’t use it).
Overall, usage of social media among Gen X is a little lower than Millennials. The single largest percentage of people in this age group (26%) spend 1-2 hours on social media per day, but a further 26% spend in excess of an hour, showing it’s still a significant part of their lives.
Boomers (Ages 57-65)
Ask a Boomer how long they spend watching live television each day and they’re most likely to say between 3-4 hours (28%). A further 26% watch five hours or more of live TV, highlighting the strength of the medium for accessing consumers in this age group. By contrast, 36% of Boomers say they generally don’t watch streamed TV. Those that do are most likely to watch 1-2 hours a day (28%).
Boomers’ social media consumption is significantly lower than all the other demographics. The single largest percentage (27%) say they spend less than 30 minutes on social media each day, while a further 13% say they generally don’t use it at all.
Overall engagement with news is down, reflective of the less volatile political and health situation. Under 32% of Americans reported engaging with the news, down from over 46% in 2020.
Some of these developments have been a long time coming, others represent significant departures from long-term trends, the report concludes. Notably, older Americans are nearly as likely as Gen Z and Millennials to engage with social media, disconnect from old sources of news and information, and shift from live to streaming services for their viewing.
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