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Millennials use radio less, smartphones more, than older groups (Nielsen)

Nielsen Generational Snapshots 2015

A new Nielsen study explores use of media types across different generations. The Generational Snapshot study looks at media use and device penetration for three age groups: Millennials (18-34), Generation X (35-49), and Baby Boomers (50-67) and finds clear trends in their choices. The numbers shared in this report compare the fourth quarters in both 2014 and 2015.

There are some consistent moves across the age groups. One is a small but consistent decline in time spent listening to AM/FM radio. For Millennials, the drop between 2014 and 2015 is from 52 hours, 32 minutes to 51 hours, 1 minute. Generation X drops from 63 hours, 22 minutes to 61 hours, 55 minutes, and even the Baby Boomer group post a slight dip from 69 hours, 8 minutes to 68 hours, 51 minutes.

Another trend is an overall increase in use of newer technology; for instance, tablet use rose 9% overall between 2014 and 2015. Time spent with smartphones, both watching video and using apps/web, has increased for all three groups. Nielsen did not share any data about where music consumption on smartphones falls within those groups, but the heavy app usage would likely include some streaming audio programs. Millennials have the highest app/web usage on smartphones at nearly 58 hours in 2015, followed closely by Generation X at just over 53 hours. Baby Boomers’ use is much lower, but did rise from 38 hours, 17 minutes in 2014 to 39 hours, 34 minutes in 2015.

The big distinctions between groups appear in the distribution of their media time. For instance, Millennials are the leaders for both smartphone stats and for use of game consoles, while Baby Boomers are the biggest consumers of TV content (both live and time-shifted). This batch of data supports other findings from Nielsen, which found similar trends in radio listenership and music streaming.

Anna Washenko

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