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All the Data Agrees: Gen Z Loves Mobile Video

November 4, 2020

Gen Z’s use of media and technology is unprecedented. No other generation in history has had such an intimate relationship to personal devices, the internet, social media, or online entertainment. While previous generations have certainly been impacted by the internet, Gen Z is defined by it. (While there’s no standardized definition of who is considered to be a member, general consensus seems to agree that those born between roughly 1995 and 2010 are Gen Z.)

As many members of Gen Z have reached adulthood, the market is now trying to understand their behavior, including leading media and entertainment apps across the OTT industry. And what so many studies have found is probably unsurprising: Gen Z watches a lot of video, spends a lot of time on their phones, and—naturally—watches a lot of video on their phones.

According to Pew Research, 55% of Gen-Z uses their smartphones for five or more hours a day—including 26% who use their smartphones for 10 or more hours a day. Meanwhile, a report from Criteo shows that the average Gen Zer streams a whopping 23 hours of video every week. 

Teens remain a large part of the generation, and according to eMarketer, 83% of 12-17 year olds will own a smartphone in 2020. That’s up from 49.6% in 2013. In the same age group, 94% will be consumers of digital video this year. Meanwhile, 71% of internet-using teens say they watch Netflix at least weekly. 

According to our own research at Penthera, older members of Gen Z are big on streaming content, too, especially on their phones. In fact, 91% of 18-24 year olds we surveyed in 2020 said they watch content on their phones, more than any of the other generations we queried. And not just for entertainment: in another survey we conducted, 64% of 18-24 year olds say they use mobile apps to watch videos related to health and fitness.

This may be baffling to older generations, who feel that they’d rather watch videos on bigger screens in their homes. But one 2019 study found that 61% of GenZers consider watching on mobile as good as watching TV. Further, 40% say their smartphone is actually their primary platform for watching Netflix, even over their CTVs. Only 22% of millennials say mobile is their primary device. 

That may also explain why Penthera data shows 57% of 18-24 year olds are more likely to subscribe to video apps that include a download feature. Gen Z spends a lot of time watching content on their phones, so they understand how vital connectivity is to a good streaming experience. Downloading lets them avoid streaming issues by making a poor cellular or wifi connection irrelevant. 

Perhaps most interesting of all, a new report released by Parks Associates shows that mobile viewing now accounts for over 40% of all video consumption hours among Gen Z heads of US broadband households. The U.S. average across generations is 20%, showing that Gen Z’s preference is incredibly high. Plus, the same report reveals Gen Z has the highest rate of multi-platform viewing, meaning they are watching OTT video across multiple devices more than anyone else.


All this data tells a clear story. For any company trying to reach the new generation, a video strategy is crucial, especially one that makes videos easy to access on mobile. But for the OTT video industry specifically, it’s a warning sign and a reminder that there’s a crucial need to be adaptable and evolve as consumers do. 

Gen Z is the future, and they are already changing the landscape of digital video. Gaining their loyalty is critical for an OTT’s longterm success, and to do so, it’s important to ensure your mobile offering is the best it can be. Further, the industry must strategize around the increase in demand for mobile video, which data shows is inevitable as Gen Z enters adulthood. 


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