Traditional media still has a role with millennials: report

MTM's latest report finds Canadians under 40 are supplementing digital platforms with broadcast news and over-the-air TV.

While digital platforms are continuing to be most popular with younger Canadians, MTM’s latest report suggests they are supplementing online content with more traditional sources, specifically when it comes to news and TV.

For the purposes of this report, MTM’s demographic definitions are slightly different than those that are typically used, splitting “millennials” into Gen Z (between 18 and 30 years old) and Gen Y (between 31 and 39).

In some ways, millennials are bigger news consumers than older Anglophones. While those 40 and over are most likely to consumer news through TV, 50% of all millennials still watch Canadian TV news channels. They are also most likely to be reading news content online, with 88% of Gen Ys and 86% of Gen Z consuming news this way, compared to 72% of older Anglophones. Gen Y is slightly more likely to be getting news from broadcaster websites (77%, compared to 66% of Gen Z). while Gen Z is more likely to get news from social media (66%, compared to 57% of Gen Y 57%). All three groups also read news on online news aggregators and newspaper websites.

Close to two in five Millennials fall into what MTM has referred to as the “TV My Way” category, opting-out of traditional linear viewing, and are instead watching TV content online. However, they aren’t completely abandoning paid TV subscriptions altogether: half still subscribe to a TV service, although they are far less likely to do so than older Anglophones (81%). Somewhat surprisingly, millennials are also more likely than older Anglophones to say they use an over-the-air antenna, which could be supplementing the content they get online.

Virtually all Gen Zs (94%), the vast majority of Gen Ys (91%), and 68% of the older group subscribe to at least one SVOD service. Netflix the most subscribed-to service, followed by Amazon Prime, Disney+, Crave and Apple TV. Close to four in 10 Gen Zs and a quarter of Gen Ys subscribed to at least one new SVOD service during COVID-19 in order to have more content to watch.

Despite the fact that traditional broadcasting still has a place, millennials are spending more time online and less time with traditional media, such as traditional radio or TV. Gen Zs report spending roughly 38 hours per week on the internet and only a total of 10 hours watching traditional TV and listening to traditional radio. Gen Ys also spend a large majority of their time online, but it is a little more evenly distributed time with traditional sources.

They are the generation most into online audio. Millennials are 54% more likely than older Anglophones to be streaming audio online, but it’s YouTube is the preferred platform to access audio for all ages, with 81% of Gen Zs and 74% of Gen Ys are using the platform to listen to music online. Nearly half (46%) of all millennials are listening to podcasts.

Video game and esports content is slightly more popular among the younger set, with Gen Zs (52%) twice as likely than Gen Ys (26%) to watch others play video games online and attend eSports events live or online (21% vs 12%).

All demos have also been making online video calls during the pandemic, especially Gen Z: Millennials 80%, GenX 71%, and Older Anglophones 51%. Facetime has continued to be the most popular platform, but Zoom – previously unknown outside of corporate teleconference settings prior to the pandemic – and Facebook Messenger have also become popular.

Since the release of smart speakers in Canada, three in 10 elder millennials have acquired one for their home, the most likely demographic to own one.

The most popular social network across all groups is Facebook, but following that, Instagram and Snapchat are more popular among Gen Zs, while Gen Y shows more interest in LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter.