MILLENNIALS 5: What the Data Tells Us About the TV Habits of the Younger and Older Millennials.

Aug 12, 2017 | Audience Intelligence, Media & Entertainment

Television’s “first Golden Age” was born of a desire to make the most of this technological miracle, and not squander it.

We’ll avoid further comment on that, except to say that phrases such as “vast wasteland” have in the intervening decades been used to characterize the medium. In the opinion of some, its potential was not in the long run quite realized.

In its early days, however, its goals were lofty. The instantaneous and impartial reporting of events as they unfolded. Or how about the arts? Well, no longer need an American in Kansas come to New York to enjoy the newest works by the country’s most exciting young playwrights. Such works would now be brought right into America’s living rooms. Original plays written for TV included Rod Serling’s ‘Requiem for a Heavyweight,’ Reginald Rose’s ‘Twelve Angry Men,’ and Paddy Chayefsky’s ‘Marty.’ All eventually remade as Hollywood features, the last, in its film version, actually winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

Also, comedians who had been superstars on radio seamlessly made the transition to the visual medium, such as Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, and Lucille Ball.

While the pickins were slim, in terms of channels broadcasting anything. And they only did so for a few scant hours a day. Any period that produced ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ‘Honeymooners,’ ‘The Phil Silvers Show’ (aka, ‘Sgt. Bilko’), ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents,’ ‘Your Show of Shows,’ ‘You Bet Your Life,’ and so forth, does sure seem legitimately like a Golden Age.

Now we have, seemingly infinite outlets for original broadcasting, catering to all generations and types. However depending upon the perch from which you’re viewing it, you could regard it as a Second Golden Age, or of being emblematic of the culture’s collapse. For every ‘Breaking Bad’ there is a ‘Honey Boo Boo’ (and we suspect we’re being extremely generous in our proclaiming a one-to-one ratio).

More so than other categories — this reveals, when dividing Millennials according to these age brackets — you are bluntly dealing with young people with a foot strongly still planted in childhood, and slightly less young people with an ever-increasingly arthritic foot crossing over into middle-age.

Per usual, let’s start with what StatSocial tells us of the programming tastes of the younger set.


Entries 1 and 3 are, straight-up, youth oriented. The program at the top may nominally owe a debt to the very silly 1980s Michael J. Fox film, but in all other regards owes its tone and popularity to the worlds of the mopey, hunky teenaged monsters populating the worlds of YA (i.e., “young adult”) book series, and the popular films based on them. ‘Twilight,’ which had its own muscly, mopey teenaged werewolf character, of course being the best known.

Ariana’s inter-generational TV party isn’t going well. If Ariana had StatSocial, she might have an easier time finding some common-ground among her disparate group of friends, and picking a program upon which they all can agree. One thing, however, they DO all agree on is that Ariana’s nachos are awesome.

Freeform’s ‘Pretty Little Liars’ goes one better than owing a debt to those films inspired by popular big screen YA book adaptations, itself being an adaptation of a popular series of YA mystery books. PLL, though, to the best of my knowledge, is monster-free.

Things start to feel more college aged as you descend the list. While Family Guy premiered 18 years ago (although it was off the air for a couple of years before an unexpected revival in the early-naughts), and is well past its sell-by date, South Park has remained the most biting and take-no-prisoners satire on American television for 20 years now; its last season being one of its finest ever. Still, opinions aside, as they both proudly traffic in the rude and irreverent, it is not surprising to see each successive generation of young adults take to either of these shows.

It would be easy to look at this list as being a relatively even-handed mix of those programs which appeal to men and women. But that is precisely the sort of thinking which we’re trying to dispel. Digging into the stats, though, ‘Orange is the New Black’ does have an 80% female audience. SportsNation’s audience is comfortably mostly male.

But as we’ve illustrated elsewhere, making those assumptions is not by any means best practice.

Veering from the list, but to illustrate our point with a popular show. Netflix’s flagship entry in their fruitful partnership with Marvel/Disney, the critically acclaimed adaptation of the comic book Daredevil, does have a majority male audience, as you’d prejudge. But not spectacularly so. Surely not to a degree matching the disparity found in ‘Orange is the New Black’’s demographics. To certain marketers here is a sizable female audience very likely receptive to a message or product, that other female audiences might not be. If you were to brush it off based on a surface judgment or assumption, an opportunity would be missed.

And that’s what we do here at StatSocial, lead people to marketing opportunities. We’re using Daredevil’s appeal with women to illustrate our point. As the shows on the above list — like take for example, ‘Pretty Little Liars’’ 88% female fanbase — conform to expectation. But, truthfully, so do a lot of things in life. But not everything, and elaborate or even simple marketing plans should involve as little guesswork as possible, particularly when cold hard facts are readily available via StatSocial.


Well, during this second Golden Age of Television we see that the theoretical grown-ups in this group are not more likely to watch youth oriented broadcasting than their younger peers. They aren’t, however, more likely to watch classier programming either

I mean, there is nothing wrong with Anthony Bourdain whatsoever. He’s an amusing, intelligent TV personality. The Daily Show, under its new leadership, is 50% more likely to be viewed by this lot than the Millennials born closer to the actual turn of the Millennium. Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper suggest a leftward slant, but Hannity’’s respectable placement on the list provides us with an opportunity to state that even when taken in bite-size chunks, marketing on the basis of birth year is just not a wise dedication of resources. Assume nothing, run a StatSocial report, and learn the truth.

We finish things off with the jewels in the Second Golden Age’s crown, ‘Dr. Drew’ and ‘Shark Tank.’ But we jest, of course, at least regarding the last entry. We find ‘Shark Tank’ both entertaining and a show that ultimately promotes excellent values. A show that celebrates the entrepreneur, and with core messages regarding the importance of invention, tenacity, persistence, and plain old hard work is a rare and beautiful thing on American TV. So, we tease, but we find its popularity heartening.

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