What College Age Millennials Watch on TV

lostMarketers will be happy to hear that TV is still an important part of college-age Millennials’  lives. True, they are more likely to be watching it on their own terms — on YouTube, Tivo or the channel web sites — than at the time of original airing. But they still have ‘favorite shows’ that they will make time to see.

According to the ‘Third Annual Millennials Survey’ (Fall 2008) by William Blair & Co, college students spend about an hour and 38 minutes each day watching television, a figure that increased from the previous year, but is still an hour less than the time they report spending listening to music. About half their TV viewing time is ‘multi-tasking’ time, shared with reading, homework, text messaging, and emailing.  This is far lower than the 5 hours of TV time Nielsen says is average for U.S. adults, but still more than might be expected.

What do they watch?

When asked if they have a ‘must watch’ show, a whopping 94% say ‘yes’. The three most popular shows were Lost, The Office and Gossip Girl.  My informal research says Grey’s Anatomy, Glee, Secret Life of the Amercian Teenager and Dancing with the Stars are also popular on campuses. This fits with the William Blair dat which says 7% of the ‘must watch’ shows are reality shows and 78% are scripted. Sports, news and ‘other’ make up the remainder.

For marketers this data serves as a good reminder that traditional media can still be a good way to reach even hard to reach college students, although not necessarily at the time of original airing. Only sixteen percent watch their favorite program live 100% of the time. On average 55% of must watch shows are watched live.  Twenty seven percent report having a TiVo or DVR and 69% percent report watching TV on their computers.

A full copy of the report is available from Meggan Friedman at William Blair.