4 Things Millennials Want to See on TV
19th Sep 2013 Posted in: YAYA Wire 3
4 Things Millennials Want to See on TV

By Brooke Hofer, Editor

On September 22nd, 2013, CBS will broadcast the Primetime Emmy Awards, which is one of several award shows that recognize excellence in the television industry.  Going along with research that shows Millennials, or today’s 18-24-year-olds, simply prefer the Internet over television, last year’s Emmys hit a new low in ratings among 18-49-year-olds.  Primetime television is failing to capture their full attention.  On average, Millennials engage in at least 10 other activities when watching primetime television, while the rest of Generation X engage in 8.4 activities.

So what can a primetime network do to entice this Youth and Young Adult (YAYA) market?  Creating content that Millennials can identify with is a solid start.

Here are 4 trends seen in Emmy nominated television shows that resonate with Millennials and correspond with their values and ideas.

1.    Strong Parent-Child Relationships

Very few comedies are applauded for their portrayal of family relationships like Modern Family, which is nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series.  The show, albeit very funny, is known for occasional moments between parents and children that tug at heartstrings and showcase their close emotional bonds.  Millennials strongly align with close parent-child relationships.  Fifty-two percent of the YAYA age group say that being a good parent, as opposed to having a successful marriage, is the most important thing in their life.


2.    Pro Gay Rights/Gender Equality Messages

Seventy percent of Millennials support same-sex marriage legalization, which is more than any other generation.  In addition, 84 percent of Millennials disagree that women should return to their traditional roles in society.  These young adults support serious social change, so their television programs should as well.  Girls, nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, is one show that takes on feminist issues and aims to be a mouthpiece for issues that young women face on daily basis.  Unsurprisingly, the series has been renewed for its third season based on its consistently high ratings.


3.    Ethnic Diversity

Millennials are the most ethnically diverse demographic.  Game of Thrones, nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, is a show that attempts to capture this diversity by casting people of different ethnicities in large ensemble casts.  Recently, Indira Varma (of Indian descent) and Pedro Pascal (of Chilean descent) were cast into major roles in the next season.  The Game of Thrones, along with other shows like Girls, Mad Men and Downton Abbey, have faced recent backlash over a lack of cast diversity and are taking steps to change.


4.    Hard Work Rewarded

A common belief* among Millennials is, “if you work hard, you can be successful at any age.”  Millennials turn to shows like Mad Men, nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, to see these values embodied.  They love the storyline of Peggy – a young woman who started as a secretary at Sterling Cooper ad agency at the beginning of the series.  Her hard work and persistence over the past few seasons have earned her a spot as a creative director at a top agency despite facing an uphill battle as a female professional in the 1960s.

Incorporating popular trends among Millennials into primetime television shows can increase a network’s chance of reaching this generation.  However, it’s important to note that even though YAYA viewers may consider themselves fans of these Emmy nominated shows, they may not necessarily be sitting down in front of the TV to watch them, as Millennials are spending less time watching shows on a television and more time streaming shows via the Internet.

Do you have a favorite television show that you feel would resonate with YAYA viewers?  Which YAYA friendly TV shows deserve to win an Emmy?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment box below or by tweeting @yayaconnect.



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  • Megan Krtek

    Almost half of 18-24-year-olds watch their television online. (Source: http://goo.gl/sVNWIH) As a Millennial, I know I watch 95% of my television shows online the day after they air on TV.

  • Cathy Ann

    I agree with all of these points. If primetime television wants to grab Millennial attention they have to look at the show that are doing well and implement some changes. Make Millennials stop what they are doing and watch the show during the live spot rather than waiting a day or two to watch it on the Internet. Very few shows get this kind of attention from Millennials.

  • Thomas Bourneuf

    I think that a lot of the things mentioned above can be brought back to Millennials greater acceptance of progressive social reform. People our age don’t want to just watch any old tv show any more, they want to watch shows which are open to their ideas.