Young fans of television in a digital world
Young people and children have a huge range of video content available to them these days. Yet television and its new uses hold an important place in their practices, as the recent lockdown and curfew periods have demonstrated. Television also inspires new video actors. As Julien Rosanvallon, Deputy Managing Director of Médiamétrie, will explain, Médiamétrie closely monitors these rapidly changing uses.
What are the main differences between the TV practices of young people and children and those of adults?
On video platforms, the younger generations represent a very significant proportion of uses, which are also mainly on mobile screens These uses are significant and have increased. They constitute practices and models of very different natures from television.
How do you interpret these developments in audiovisual practices?
Let us set a few reading keys to understand what underlies these changes.
First of all, it is essential to note that the overall consumption of video content in the widest sense, be it on television, SVoD or video platforms, has increased a lot among young people. The offer has grown strongly, as have the uses.
Within this plethora of services, television remains at a high level among the younger generations: 70% of them watch television every day. The strong increase in their TV usage during lockdown attests to their strong link with this medium: +69% listening time during the first 5 weeks of lockdown, compared to the previous year. The viewing figures for “La Maison Lumni” broadcasts on France Télévisions are another example of the relevance and power of young audiences' attachment to the medium of TV. Similarly, during the first week of implementation of the curfew (between 19 and 25 October 2020), we observed a greater increase in TV viewing time (+20%) and number of viewers among 15-24-year-olds than among children aged 4 years and over, compared to the previous week.
Do these results reflect an effect linked to this age group, or is this a generational trend?
This question obviously needs answering. Both of these parameters are involved. We are measuring an age effect, since we still record a significant difference between the uses of 15-24-year-olds and those of 25-34-year-olds. Several markers of the stages of life such as leaving home, moving in as a couple and the arrival of a first child are all triggers of greater TV use. These stages of life keep shifting over time. In addition, the tremendous development of mobile screens gives young people the possibility of freeing themselves from their parents' choices of TV programmes. But this choice should not be taken as the symbol of a break with the media as I mentioned above, on the contrary, the link between young people and television is strong. To summarise, there is definitely a cumulative effect of age and generation, which, admittedly, is still difficult to estimate. But we mustn’t jump to hasty conclusions from the developments of the last 10 years, because they are also guided by structural developments, which affect these parameters. We also need to be wary of drawing hasty conclusions based simply on what we see people close and not so close to us doing!
How does television adapt to the new formats and content offered by more recent players?
People are talking about new competitors, new codes, new formats. Some people see these new initiatives as a renewal of the genre and innovative platforms. The innovations are real and many, but it clearly seems that these breaks concern more the modes of distribution than the content itself. Because these new players are also increasingly adopting the audiovisual media codes: they offer weekly slots for the release of new episodes, expand the genres broadcast with the production of streaming programmes in formats similar to those of TV, or even rely on the know-how of the channels to produce content.
Symmetrically, the audiovisual media have also transformed. There are many initiatives, such as new offers for replays, content platforms, previews and exclusive content. Young people over-consume these platforms. For example, replay accounted for 7% of television viewing time for 4-14-year-olds in 2019, and 5% of that for 15-24-year-olds. This is more than for all ages 4 and over: they spent 3% of their TV viewing time watching replay programmes.
How does Médiamétrie manage to measure these uses?
It is important to discuss the consequences for the ecosystem, particularly those of measurement, of these new uses. We are monitoring these uses by constantly improving our benchmark television measurement, Médiamat, which now includes TV uses outside the home and on the move. We are also measuring these uses through other studies, such as the Internet Video Audience study, in which YouTube participates alongside other video players, or, even more recently, the resumption of the NPA Harris Interactive barometer, which is now Médiamétrie/Harris Interactive, to monitor SVoD consumption on a daily basis.
These measurements are essential for providing a neutral and impartial insight on market developments, particularly to allow advertisers, among others, to make objective comparisons between TV and Digital. These measurements are under increasing constraints related to technologies, regulations, and also to the weight of platforms, whose data it is not always easy to consolidate. The history of Médiamétrie, a neutral and independent trusted third party, has been built around the idea of the need to create a common benchmark that is useful to all players in the ecosystem, like a currency.