As of lately I have become fascinated with Generation Z and learning everything I can about them. Having two members of that generation in my home has afforded me a wealth of knowledge that marketers pay a lot of money for. My latest obsession has to do with their media consumption preferences and behaviors. With my kids on summer break, this allows more time to observe their behavior in this arena because once school starts, they get very little, if any, time with media and electronics during the week.
I can honestly say that if I removed our 50-inch flat screen TV from our home, they probably would not notice. I’m starting to feel sorry for our TV, just sitting there, collecting dust, waiting to be turned on, while the remote control calls out to us, but none of us really listen or care to pick it up. The real stars in our home are the portable devices, all shiny with their streaming capabilities and oh! so easy to use.
My kids prefer to watch programming on a tablet or smartphone rather than on TV. Streaming content is what it’s all about and YouTube is king. The portable device gives them the autonomy to watch what they want, how they want to, and where they want to. The latest phenomenon is watching videos of other kids at play. The favorites in my household include kids performing silly challenges…the bean boozled challenge, the smoothie challenge, the Oreo cookie challenge, the chubby bunny challenge and the list goes on and on…some are well, disgusting, others are quite funny. Other content that is unbelievably popular are unboxing videos – yes, you heard me right! – videos about unwrapping the latest toys or Frozen doll, or Kinder surprise chocolate eggs. They get to experience the opening of a toy or treat as if they were doing it themselves. Another one that tops the list are Let’s Play videos where a kid plays, reacts and comments on the game he is playing like Super Smash Bros, Minecraft or Five Nights at Freddy’s. Then there’s the Play-Doh reviews, that’s right, where a young Play-Doh enthusiast gives their opinion on the product while demonstrating how it woks, it’s really some riveting stuff. And what about EvanTubeHD! Ever heard of him? He’s a 9-year old kid that has racked up 1.2 billion views. His shtick is reviewing his favorite toys and videogames and kids all over the world simply love him, including mine. Finally, the top content in my house is The Skylander Boy and Girl and FUNnel Vision, I know it sounds like I’m speaking a foreign language but this is all the rage, just ask any elementary age school kid or their parents.
I can definitely see the appeal in all this content, and we’re not just talking any videos either. Production levels are high, scripts and music work is top notch, and many of these channels have millions of viewers. Watching YouTube on a tablet presents a lot of choices and the experience is personal…it really is the perfect, personalized television network that is proving to be the next generation TV for our Gen Z’ers. Kids get to choose, and try, and discover what they like on their own terms. So move aside Lab Rats and The Amazing World of Gumball – original, self-generated video content of real kids like themselves is what is driving their entertainment preferences.
With Generation Z poised to be a powerful force, this is sure to have a big impact on the traditional TV business. As traditional TV becomes less and less effective, more advertisers will look to online video to fill the gap. Which is a good thing given that online video provides a more targeted, captive audience who is truly engaged with what they’re watching and therefore more likely to absorb what the brand is saying.
But going back to our TV at home, I think we’ll keep it around for a while longer as I’m sure the traditional entertainment companies are devising alternative and innovative programming and content that will be just as appealing and will have us huddled around the TV just like in the old days.