Future News: Where Have All the Networks Gone?

by Dave Zornow

Miami, Jan 29 — Among kids and teens 17 and younger, Netflix (named by 70% of respondents) and YouTube (50%) were the top two networks named by respondents to a study conducted by THE INTELLIGENCE GROUP. These results were confirmed by similar studies conducted by cable networks.

Let that sink in for a second. Where is ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox? Where did 60+ years of broadcast network branding go? Where is ESPN, TBS, Discovery, MTV, Nickelodeon, Lifetime, AMC, HGTV and Disney? Gone in a digital second, so it would seem.

Joseph Kessler, President of The Intelligence Group, presented this factoid as part of  Understanding Consumer Behavior, Culture and Generational Nuances at the Media Insights and Engagement Conference in Miami, Jan 29-31. The Intelligence Group, a division of CAA, is a leading youth market consumer insights consultancy that publishes the Cassandra Report and Cassandra Daily.

Kessler says that the Gen-Z (aka post-Millenials) group is the first generation of digital natives, having never known the crushing depression of their parents, raised in a stifling three network broadcast world with as few as 50 cable channels.

This finding raises some serious implications for current broadcast and cable networks. If the next generation doesn’t differentiate the content received from a particular source — whether it be via a broadcast antenna, cable download or Internet connection — how will they maintain their brand superiority? Moreover, how will they justify the highest CPMs in media?

Fortunately, those dopey kids won’t be making media buying decisions. That will be left to media buyers, who will continue to pay a premium for broadcast networks, despite the fact that over 90 percent of the US gets its TV via satellite or cable. The playing field can’t get much more level than that.

Despite these big shifts in attitudes, it’s unlikely that there will be any big changes in how media is bought in the next 25 years. Although broadcast networks ratings have drastically fallen, their reach is still huge. And there will always be a place in the media plan for the biggest rating available, even if it isn’t as big as it was back in the day. (Check your TV guides for that football game scheduled for Sunday night. It’s not likely that YouTube is going to put much of a dent in what will probably be a record breaking Super Bowl rating).

Photo Credit: Cassandra.com (The Intelligence Group)

Kessler shared a few more interesting generational factoids during his talk:

 Gen z (post-Millenials) — Disrupters with a cause

  • There are 46 persons 17 and under.
  • They consider themselves the CTO of the HH (Chief Technology officer of the Household) being the first true native digital generation.
  • Grave New World: 63% think the world is a scary place
  • Live Local, Watch Global: 67% think that watching and sharing media gives them stronger links with other countries. They don’t see the social divides that older generations see; their attitudes about diversity have been shaped by seeing an African American as President of the United States.
  • 73% think that YouTube is cool
  • 55% would rather be anonymous online.

Gen Y (Millenials)

  • There are 80-90 million 18-34s in the US.
  • They are group oriented; they need to be heard. Showered with praise during their formative years, they are loaded with self esteem and are convinced they are special.
  • Social people love social media: It’s not an accident that they are the sweet spot of social media. Technology helps them stay connected and communicate more effectively. Many prefer to be in the “virtual moment” in social media than have face-to-face conversations.
  • Peer to Peer Connections: 84% rely on opinions of others friends and family for products, movies
  • Social DNA: 63% want to be the first to share news and information.
  • You Can Go Your Own Way (without any help from Fleetwood Mac): 48% say their new reality is not following the traditional path.
  • Entrepreneurial: “We are a generation of employers not employees.”
    • 84% think their definition of success is different from their parents.
    • “Working for someone else is unappealing and limiting,” says one 23 year old study respondent.
  • They will go to extreme measures to have a cool experience: 70% would rather have a cool experience than a cool product.
  • It’s Not Just about The Money
    • 73% say its important to make a positive impact
    • A majority would choose a job that pays less if it helps to make a difference
    • 54% would rather take time off to go an adventure than to stay on the fast job track.
  • Takers, not makers — Yet: 93% receive parental assistance.

 Gen X

  • There are 40 million post-boomer persons 35-49.
  • Raised By Wolves: This latchkey generation is fiercely independent. “I’d rather sleep on the streets than move in with my parents,” says one respondent.

Photo Credit: Cassandra.co (The Intelligence Group)

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