Gen Z Ranks Watching TV, Movies as Fifth Among Top 5 Entertainment Activities

Todd Spangler
·4 min read

Kids these days: They’re just not programmed to watch TV like their elders.

Generation Z displays strikingly different entertainment preferences than older age groups, according to Deloitte’s 2021 Digital Media Trends survey. Among Gen Z consumers in the U.S. (those currently aged 14-24), video games are their No. 1 entertainment activity — and watching TV or movies at home comes in fifth.

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About 26% of Gen Z said video games are their top entertainment activity, and 87% of those in the age bracket said they play video games daily or weekly. That’s followed by listening to music (14%), browsing the internet (12%) and engaging on social media (11%).

Only 10% of Gen Z respondents said watching TV or movies was their favorite entertainment pastime, the Deloitte study found. For every other age group, that remains the top pick, including among millennials (18%), Gen Xers (29%) and boomers (39%).

The decline in TV viewing among younger demos has been documented. But what’s concerning for Hollywood is that the new data could signal a seismic and permanent shift in consumers’ entertainment habits, said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman at Deloitte and U.S. technology, media and telecom leader.

“The youngest generation is looking for video games, music and other forms of entertainment” ahead of television and movies, Westcott said. “If you’re a traditional media company, you’re going have to offer a broader range of entertainment than just movies and TV shows.”

To be sure, while video games have seen a dramatic surge in usage during the COVID-19 crisis, the popularity of online gaming may ebb with quarantine restrictions easing. A solid majority of Gen Z, millennials and Generation X respondents said that during the pandemic, video games have helped them stay connected to other people and get through difficult times. About 46% of those said playing video games has reduced time spent with other forms of entertainment.

Still, Gen Z’s predilection for video games stand to have long-lasting ramifications for the media biz. “Everybody believed that when millennials aged up, they would adopt the same media behaviors as older cohorts. That didn’t happen,” he said. “And there’s no evidence that Gen Z will become like millennials.”

Top 5 Entertainment Activities of U.S. Consumers by Age Group

Deloitte 2021 Media Trends Survey Gen Z Entertainment Activities
Deloitte 2021 Media Trends Survey Gen Z Entertainment Activities


Source: Deloitte Media Trends survey, 15th Edition

Other findings from the Deloitte survey:

  • U.S. consumers on average have access to four paid video streaming services; 82% subscribe to at least one paid streaming video service.

  • The churn rate (percentage account cancellations) for streaming video services has jumped during COVID: That was about 37% between October 2020 and February 2021 (compared with under 20% pre-pandemic).

  • A price increase is the No. 1 reason consumers cited for canceling a paid video, music or gaming service. Content (35%) and cost (46%) are the most important factors in deciding to subscribe to a new paid streaming video service.

  • 55% of consumers say they watch free, ad-supported video services; 40% say they would prefer to pay $12 a month for a streaming video service with no ads versus 60% of consumers who would accept some ads for a reduction in monthly subscription costs.

  • 53% of those surveyed are frustrated by needing multiple service subscriptions to access the content they want.

  • 66% of U.S. consumers say they get frustrated when content they want to watch is removed from a service.

  • Half of Gen Z consumers rank social media as the No. 1 way they prefer to get news, whereas only 12% prefer to get news from network or cable TV. By contrast, 58% of boomers say they prefer news on network or cable TV, and only 8% look to social media first for news stories.

  • 77% of respondents say the government must do more to regulate data collection and use; 45% say they would pay for social media if it didn’t collect their data.

Deloitte’s 15th Annual Digital Media Trends survey polled 2,009 U.S. consumers online in February 2021. The data in the study is weighted to reflect the composition of the U.S. population.

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