Many of my friends don't own a TV, but that could change soon

I recently joined CNET covering television (hello!). First, I asked some friends some basic questions. “What do you want from a TV?” But I quickly realized I should have asked a different question. The question is whether anyone actually owns a TV. As things stand, many people don't.

I am a member of Generation Z, defined as those born between 1997 and 2012. My friends and I have long relied on personal devices, primarily phones and laptops, for entertainment rather than traditional television screens. The last few rooms in my apartment didn't have a TV in the living room. Most of the time, my roommate and I were streaming content on our laptops.

But you can't do everything on your personal device. People want TVs for console gaming or as a replacement screen for their computers after a long day at work or school. Moreover, watching shows and movies with friends and family on a small screen is unsightly and inconvenient.

Recent data shows that Gen Z is actually less reliant on TVs than past generations, but TV manufacturers are adding new features to make sets more appealing to younger viewers. Adding. Experts I spoke to said that increasing integration between smartphones and TVs, including the ability to buy products seen in shows and movies, will motivate younger consumers to buy and use more TVs. He pointed out that there is a possibility that

Mobile phones surpass TVs for streaming shows among Gen Z

Broadpeak, a design and technology company, found that a survey of 16- to 23-year-olds in the U.S., France, and Brazil found that the majority (50%) use their smartphones as their primary device for watching programming. It has been revealed that We manufacture video distribution components. Computers are then his second most popular source at 30%, followed by tablets and televisions at just 10% each.

My first instinct was that this must be due to the ever-growing dominance of social media like TikTok and Instagram, which cannot be consumed on TV. But strangely enough, Gen Z still spends a lot of time streaming. A study by consumer research firm GWI found that Gen Z typically spends about two hours per day streaming. In other words, their movie and TV consumption hasn't decreased, they've just changed the way they watch it.

Focusing on the “streaming wars,” or what content people are consuming, misses the larger point. how They're consuming it, according to entertainment and TV research firm Hub. Like Broadpeak's research, the company's data also points to a major shift away from traditional TV screens.

So what does this mean for TV manufacturers and content producers?

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For the majority of Gen Z, their mobile phone is their primary streaming device.

Josh Goldman/CNET

New Frontier: Mean Girls split into 23 TikTok videos

Some show and movie producers and distributors are adapting to capture Gen Z viewers on mobile phones. For example, Paramount split the entire Mean Girls movie into 23 videos that he uploaded to TikTok.

John Giegengach, founder and president of Hub, said social media platforms and streaming companies are competing for the attention of young consumers, with only 24 hours in a day. There is a certain ease with social media like TikTok that takes the hassle out of people's decision-making and allows content to be displayed seamlessly without the need for personal decision-making.

For example, when you turn on your TV and go to Netflix, you need to spend time choosing what to watch, Giegengack says. TikTok bypasses that “discovery process” by showing content immediately, while at the same time fine-tuning what is shown in the future through algorithms.

“TikTok probably has the best discovery process, but it's not a discovery process at all,” he said.

It's a mode or ease of viewing that TVs haven't quite caught up to. Some streaming services offer a “shuffle” mode, but it hasn't received the same attention as social media platforms that offer smooth entertainment. Gen Z is well known to seek instant gratification, and this feature is well suited to that.

Account sharing is easy on mobile phones

Netflix recently cracked down on password sharing, impacting the way young consumers watch TV and movies. YPulse research found that 72% of Gen Z would rather stop watching Netflix altogether if password sharing was no longer an option, rather than buying a subscription themselves.

Interestingly, Netflix's website says that Netflix only regulates password sharing on TVs connected to different Wi-Fi networks, not on personal devices. This means you can access your shared Netflix account from anywhere using your phone, tablet, or laptop. It further encourages people to just stream directly from their personal devices without having to purchase an entire separate Netflix subscription using their TV.

Gen Z is buying fewer TVs now, but that likely won't last for long.

According to data from the Consumer Technology Association, younger consumers between the ages of 18 and 26 are buying significantly fewer televisions than older generations. The 2023 U.S. Technology Ownership Survey, the most recent data available, found that 68% of consumers in this age group own a television, compared to 87% of all U.S. adults. Masu.

The study also confirmed that, overall, young people spend less time in front of traditional television than other generations. Still, there are some content types that prefer the use of television, especially in social situations, such as feature films and sports.

However, when asked if they planned to buy a TV next year, about one-third of consumers aged 18 to 26 responded in the affirmative, on par with other age groups. This is very likely because younger consumers are buying their own homes for the first time and equipping them with televisions.

So what do they want from TV?

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Casting on television is your gateway to the bigger screen.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Phone-enabled features (and shopping) could make TV even more appealing

Jessica Booth, who led the CTA study, said she expects to see a shift toward greater interconnectivity between devices. For example, some people may prefer to use their smartphone to watch content when they're alone, but others may also prefer the option to cast from their smartphone to their TV and watch with friends. yeah.

Apple AirPlay and similar screen sharing or mirroring technologies are a form of interconnection between devices and are already fairly widely used. The good thing about casting your phone or laptop screen to your TV is that it doesn't require any additional devices and is easy and quick to set up.

Booth also expects more interactive features on TV, including expanded e-commerce and direct-to-TV purchasing services. To me, this reminded me of a traditional infomercial image. But Booth specifically talked about the ability to watch shows and movies you like and buy them directly. For example, let's say you saw a pair of boots you liked in the Emily in Paris episode and bought them from TV. TikTok recently launched a “Shop” tab that functions similarly.

“If I was watching Emily and Paris and I really liked her fashion, I really think that if I could buy that purse or those shoes, that would become a reality for me,” Booth said.

Tech company Brightline recently announced that 75% of survey respondents prefer interactive TV ads to standard commercials. Viewers are not only interested in personalized ads, but also ads that they can actively interact with rather than passively watch. Other ways of directly interacting with programming, for example, sports betting directly on TV, could also become more popular.

“This is like a make-your-own adventure with television,” Booth said.

Booth agreed with the Hub's founders, saying Gen Z may become more reliant on their TVs as they become the “hub” or central command center in the home where they can control things like washing machines and Ring doorbell systems. Ta. This feature is already available on many devicesTV.

And television itself could take on a more mobile-friendly form. A few years ago, Samsung released the Sero TV, which can rotate to display vertical video. The idea of ​​the 43-inch screen was to act as a larger version of the phone, allowing you to watch TikTok and other content from vertically oriented social media platforms. Samsung said the TV was “designed for the mobile generation.”

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Samsung has made a TV designed for vertical social video.

Although Sero never fully caught on, its design gets to the heart of the idea of ​​interconnection between devices that industry experts predict will be most important to younger generations in the coming years.

I have a TV now, and it's pure coincidence that my ex-roommate forgot the TV when she moved out (yes, the whole TV). But I hardly ever see it. Instead, I rely on my phone, and really just my phone, for both entertainment and practicality. However, as television technology and features advance, I find myself re-evaluating how television can and should function in my life.

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