9 FEB 2022

How do young people in the US spend their screen-based leisure time?

TV and movies account for just 48% of all the time consumers say they spend with screen-based entertainment. Replacing this is time spent watching online videos, gaming, and browsing social media, according to Hub.


Television and movies account for less than half of all consumers’ screen-based leisure time, according to Hub’s annual “Video Redefined” study, which examines how American consumers divvy up their entertainment time, and looks in particular at the impact that new sources of video-based entertainment are having on traditional TV and movie viewing.

In detail, TV and movies account for just 48% of all the time consumers say they spend with screen-based entertainment, down 5 points from a year ago (and down 11 points from 2019). This figure is at its lowest level since Hub has been tracking entertainment habits.

According to the report, replacing television and movie time is time spent watching online videos, gaming, and browsing social media, up an equivalent 5 points from last year.

When it comes to how they spend their entertainment time, younger and older consumers bear almost no resemblance. At just 35 years old, we start to see a major shift toward TV and movies as the primary source of entertainment time: those aged 35+ spend 60% of their time watching TV and movies.

For those aged 13-24, TV and movies account for just one-fourth of entertainment time. The percentages are almost exactly the reverse for time spent on online videos, gaming, and social media: 57% for 13-24, and just 28% for 35+.

Meanwhile, the study revealed that young consumers spend almost as much time watching online videos as they spend watching traditional TV. In fact, 13-24 year olds estimate that they spend nearly 14 hours per week watching “non-premium” online videos (i.e., videos that are not traditional TV shows or movies). That is only about an hour less than the time they estimate they spend watching TV and movies. At the other end of the spectrum are 35+ consumers, who spend 2.5 as much time watching TV and movies than online videos.

When asked directly, half of young consumers acknowledge that the time they spent with other screen-based entertainment has cut into their TV viewing time. 51% of those aged 13-24 say they spend less time watching TV shows and movies because of the time they spend on gaming, online videos, social media, and other non-TV entertainment activities. The impact is much lower among older consumers: only 19% of those aged 35+ say other screen-based viewing is cutting into their traditional TV and movie time.

“When it comes to sources of screen-based entertainment, younger and older consumers could not be more different. The million-dollar question is whether today’s young consumers will always prioritize non-traditional content — or whether they’ll start to resemble older consumers as they grow older. Our prediction is that their behaviors are so ingrained that non-traditional content will always be a significant part of their entertainment consumption,”  said Peter Fondulas, Principal at Hub Entertainment Research and co-author of the study.

The data cited here come from the second wave of Hub’s “Video Redefined” study, conducted among 2.179 US consumers aged 13-74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week and have broadband service. The data were collected in December 2021.

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