NBCU research chief: Change in millennial viewing behavior is 'stunning'

Falling at around 4 percent a year since 2012, viewership of traditional TV by adults 18-34 suddenly slipped much faster in the fourth quarter, accelerating its decline to 10.6 percent, according to Nielsen.

As the New York Post revealed in a Tuesday report, network research chiefs aren't necessarily counting this as a blip.

"The change in behavior is stunning. The use of streaming and smartphones just year-on-year is double-digit increases," Alan Wurtzel, NBCUniversal's audience research chief, told the paper. "I've never seen that kind of change in behavior."

Added Horizon Media's chief researcher Brad Adgate: "Usage is really down in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic this season."

Key to the decline is the number of millennial-aged consumers who own TV sets--according to Nielsen, that's down to 17.8 million from 21.7 million in 2011.

Meanwhile, the median age of linear TV viewers has reached 50, surpassing the key demographic that networks sell their ad time on, adults 18-49.

Of course, none of this is to say that young adults have stopped watching TV. Wurtzel says SVOD viewing was up 22 percent in 2014, with "binge viewing" spiking 26 percent. 

For more:
- read this New York Post story

Related links:
Sling TV adds EPIX to lineup, battles awareness problem among millennials
Targeting millennials? Median age of Sling TV programming is 48
Cable viewing dropped 8% in prime demographic in 2014, Nielsen says