This ongoing CivicScience series digs deep into the data to explore how young adults today (Gen Z aged 18-24) differ from young adults five years ago (Millennials now aged 25-30). What can we learn about these generations – one which entered into adulthood prior to the pandemic, the other now coming of age in the middle of it? How different are they, really? Here’s what five years of polling has to say.
Media Trends Among Young U.S. Adults, Then & Now
A look at 18- to 24-year-olds in 2022 compared to 18- to 24-year-olds in 2017 (yearly averages):
1. Movies and TV shows are more important today.
Just over a quarter (27%) of young adults at this time said that movies were either important to them or a passion. Just 21% said the same about TV shows.
Today, Gen Z adults place a much higher value on movies and TV. Nearly half (49%) say movies are important or a passion. And 46% feel likewise about TV shows – more than twice that of 18-24 adults in 2017.
2. Young adults of today and yesterday watch TV at similar rates.
Nearly half of young adults spent 1-4 hours each day watching TV.
These numbers haven’t changed much at all over the past five years, despite the noted increased importance of TV shows.
3. But what they choose to watch has changed.
Certain types of TV programming were more popular than others among young adults in 2017. Nearly two-thirds (63%) watched the news weekly, outranking sports (47%) and reality TV (44%).
Gen Z appears to spend far more time than their Millennial counterparts did watching these types of TV programs. Nearly 80% watch the news and 75% watch sports each week. Reality TV shows the biggest change of all, at 77% today.
4. Netflix adoption increased, but Gen Z watches it less frequently.
One of the first video streaming platforms of its kind, Netflix was incredibly popular in 2017. A whopping 71% of young Millennial users said they watched its streaming content each week.
How have things changed? More young adults say they use Netflix now, but just 40% of Gen Z users watch it weekly, likely due to the wide variety of streaming services now available.
5. Surprisingly, going out to the movies is more popular today.
With Netflix changing the game, young adults at this time weren’t that interested in going out to the movies. Close to two-thirds said that given the choice, they’d rather watch something at home.
Perhaps the pandemic has led to a renewed interest in movie theaters, at least for the 18-24 crowd. Gen Z adults today are far more likely to prefer going out to a movie than young Millennials in 2017 were, now nearly equal to those who prefer to watch at home.
More Gen Z In-Focus Insights to discover:
Want to learn more about the Gen Z consumer today? Let’s chat. And stay tuned for an upcoming CivicScience report that deep dives into all things Gen Z.