The high school graduates of May 2018 are about to move into their college dorm rooms, and many won’t be taking a TV with them. This year’s university freshmen don’t watch TV and don’t use TVs. Instead, they watch prepackaged video content, on demand, and on their laptops and phones.
In my survey of 36 new freshmen, all who are recent high school graduates ready to move into college community housing without their snoopy parents, 39% said they do not expect a TV in their college housing room. Fifty-six percent of female students surveyed won’t have a TV in their room. In a world of big high-definition televisions, these sharp-eyed young adults gravitate to the small screen. More than three fourths (77%) expect to spend most of their video-watching time on a laptop or desktop computer. Another 20% prefer their mobile phone, and only 3% rely primarily on a traditional or smart TV. Nobody watches video on their tablet or iPad.
We’re seeing a major shift not only in device preference, but in content selection as well. The new collegians are not watching live or same-day video. Eight-six percent of all surveyed and 94% of females say more than three-fourths of what they watch is not live and did not just become available that day. A study of viewing habits from 2017 showed teens spent 34% of their video time watching YouTube, 27% watching Netflix, and 14% watching live TV. Young people spend about twice as much time watching Netflix as live TV, and even more time on YouTube
They’re watching YouTube and Netflix on their laptops.
Broadcast and cable networks rely heavily on live sports to capture a real-time audience, especially during October when Major League Baseball reaches its crescendo and all forms of football are at full throttle. But only half of the rising college freshmen surveyed said they expect to watch 3 or more hours of live sports during the whole month of October. That’s not even one full college game. Whoa, Nellie, Keith Jackson, what happened to the young’uns?
There are big differences between men and women in this narrow age group. Seventy-eight percent of males plan to watch at least three hours of live sports in October, whereas only 22% of females expect to spend this much time viewing live games. And don’t forget about the game consoles like Xbox and PS4. None of the 18 females surveyed expect to have a game box in their room, while half the young men are planning to squeeze in some Fortnite or FIFA between study sessions. As a side note, those game consoles can also stream video services like Netflix, if you don’t mind using the clunky controller that’s better suited for Madden NFL 19.
The pipelines of content aren’t what they used to be. Only 23% of those surveyed expect to plug a cable into their TV. Only 11% of males and no females will have a Blu-ray or DVD player. When they actually use “a real TV,” these young adults rely on smart TVs and over-the-top streaming devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Google Chromecast. With wall-to-wall WiFi on modern college campuses, we don’t need no stinkin’ cable.
I didn’t ask if anyone planned to use a TV antenna. I wonder if they know what one is.
A vision of TV’s future? The college class of 2022. They were born in 1999 and 2000. They’re changing the face of a medium we used to call Television, which we ought to start calling Video.
Survey Response Stats
Total Respondents: 36
All data collected August 9-11, 2018
TV or Not TV?
Will have a TV in their room 61% (78% of males; 44% of females)
Won’t have a TV in their room 39%
Device Most Used for Watching Video
Laptop or Desktop Computer 77% (82% of females; 72% of males)
Mobile Phone 20% (22% of males; 18% of females)
Traditional or Smart TV 3% (6% of males; 0% of females)
Tablet or iPad 0%
Content Delivery Device Expectations (Multiple Responses Allowed)
Smart TV Apps 46% (56% of males; 35% of females)
Streaming Device 43% (53% of females; 33% of males)
Game Console 26% (50% of males; 0% of females)
Cable 23% (29% of females; 17% of males)
Blu-ray or DVD player 6% (11% of males; 0% of females)
Live/Same Day Content
More than 75% of what I watch is NOT live and did NOT just become available that day 86% (94% of females; 78% of males)
25-50% of what I watch is NOT live and did NOT just become available that day 9%
Less than 25% of what I watch is NOT live and did NOT just become available that day 6%
Live Sports October 2018 Viewing Expectations
3+ Hours 50% (78% of males; 22% of females)
Less than 3 Hours 50%
© Paul Sage – Sage Advice, LLC – 11 August 2018