Authenticity, environmentalism and entertainment: Young Adults in search of meaning and emotion

With so much content available to young adults these days, their media consumption differs greatly from that of older age groups.

In this constantly changing ecosystem, TV channels and digital platforms are competing creatively to nurture their appeal to this audience.

During the MIPCOM trade show, Glance (Global Audience & Content Evolution) unveiled the latest trends that are drawing the young adult audiences in. Avril Blondelot, Glance’s Content Insight Director, summarised: “There are three major trends emerging at the start of the season in terms of the programming that appeals to young adults in particular. The first trend relates to programmes that are about young adults and which reflect their reality in an authentic manner. The second trend encompasses programmes that move at a high pace and keep young adults in suspense. The third trend features just causes – as seen by young people – of which the biggest of our time is environmentalism. Comedy and entertainment genres continue to do very well also.”

Trend #1 : Authenticity, a key value for young adults

The search for meaning is crucial to the youth of today. The transition to working life is often accompanied by existential questioning and the search for answers. Of course, the channels and platforms know this and so they provide young adult audiences with life journeys that are authentic. One such example is Nagi’s Long Vacation (TBS, Japan) which tells the story of a thirty-something woman at crossroads who decides to quit her job and leave her boyfriend to embark on a new journey.

Other programmes introduce young adults to jobs that inspire: in Fishing Fortune (TV2 Zebra, Norway), the audience learns about the different roles involved in fish farming in Norway and how these ordinary workers find happiness in their work. This documentary series helped the channel double its audience share of 15-24 year olds over the first 8 episodes.

Finally, Shopping with Keith Lemon (ITV2, United Kingdom) is a new take on the celebrity interview format. Lemon tags along as the celebrities do their everyday shopping and his guests reveal their lives in a natural and authentic manner, which also appeals to Millennials.

Trend #2 : Stories that are always gripping and at times, violent

Dramatic scenes, violence and fantasy have always appealed to young adults, for instance: the thriller Quicksand (Netflix, Sweden) or the K-drama Hotel del Luna (TVN, South Korea) a dramedy whose protagonists are ghosts.

In the latest development, these themes also appear in non-fictional programmes. For example: Zombody save me! (TVNZ OnDemand, New Zealand), a competition to survive a zombie onslaught, or TV game shows such as Hush Money (BBC Three, United Kingdom) which appeal to Millennials. Then there is 1:30 (ProSieben, Germany), a variety show featuring fast-paced artistic performances, which demonstrates the potential audience: the premiere boosted the market share on the slot by 112% among 14-29 year olds.

Trend #3 : TV programmes are becoming greener and young adults are following suit

Millennials’ interest in all things environmental and climate-related is reflected in the TV content they watch, both in terms of factual programmes (documentaries, news magazine programmes), and entertainment or even fictional genres.

In fact, this ecological aspect can be found in dramas that imagine the future or retrace real events. One such example is Chernobyl which recounts the disaster of the same name, and which enabled HBO to triple its audience for the broadcast time slot among 18-34 year olds in the USA. Skyfire, which airs on the Zee5 platform in India, tells the story of today’s world where natural disasters and epidemics are wreaking havoc with life on earth.

Environmentalism is also dealt with through a more positive and fun lens: The Masters (DR1, Denmark), pits contestant couples against one another along the theme of recycling; this programme illustrates this new entertainment trend.

Finally, there is a growing number of compelling documentaries such as these two which will air soon: Anthropocene, the Rise of Humans on ZDF (Germany) or Green Blood on France 5 (France).

Entertainment, the preferred genre for young adults  

Entertainment achieves the feat of simultaneously being the genre that is the least aired and the most watched by young adults. That was the first lesson to emerge from the latest edition of the Young Adults report conducted by Glance, which analyses Access and Prime Time broadcasts on the 6 main channels for the young adult target market in 10 key territories*. In terms of audience, entertainment outshone fiction and factual programming: on average for the same 10 countries, entertainment accounted for 38% of the TV content watched by Millennials. Although on air less often than the other genres, entertainment has considerable traction for this audience.

Another lesson from the report was the recurring top-performing entertainment formats from one year to the next: 71% of the highest rated programmes in the different countries had also been ranked highly in the previous year. By way of comparison, this was only true for 31% of fictional programmes.

* countries covered: Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States


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