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Gen Z viewers watch 3 times as much streaming content as live television

An arm comes through the screen of a connected TV while holding a stopwatch with a green play button in its center.

Illustratiobn by Holly Warfield / Getty / The Current

Gen Z and millennial viewers are spending significantly more time streaming content than watching live TV, a generational shift that has implications for marketers looking to tap into younger audiences, according to new survey-based research by GWI.

Gen Z viewers say they spend an average of 1 hour and 51 minutes streaming versus 38 minutes watching live television daily; that’s almost three times as much streaming as cable. Likewise, millennials spend 1 hour and 58 minutes streaming versus 1 hour and 3 minutes on live television daily — almost twice as much time on streaming than cable. For context, the report finds that the average American TV viewer spends 1 hour and 40 minutes every day watching streaming channels and a similar amount of time on live television, which shows that attrition of live/linear television is happening at a generational level (hello, cord-nevers).

The most popular streaming platform for Gen Z is Netflix, with 75 percent saying they watch every month, according to a related GWI report, Gen Z in the US. Other competitors lag behind — with Hulu (54 percent), Disney+ (48 percent), and Amazon Prime Video (40 percent) rounding out the survey’s top four — but are catching up as more Gen Zers acquire different streaming services. HBO Max has seen a boost in Gen Z interest, especially thanks to hit shows like White Lotus that have generated buzz on social media.

That said, the report finds a 35 percent year-on-year increase in the proportion of Gen Zers who say streaming services are getting too expensive. Ad tiers on many of these platforms can help subsidize the aggregate costs of multiple subscriptions. Figures from the GWI research highlight the opportunity for advertisers: Gen Z consumers say they are 77 percent more likely to discover a new brand during ads that play before an online video than the average consumer. “It’s important for brands to think about how they can reach U.S. Gen Z across different viewing platforms to maximize exposure,” states the GWI report.