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Teens. Watch. TV.

Stories abound that young people are abandoning TV in droves. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that today’s preteens are as familiar with television as they are with 8-Tracks, AM radio, and Betamax.

But that’s not entirely true. Yes, viewing is becoming more shifted, especially among younger audiences. But it’s not a death sentence for the industry. That’s right, we’re saying it right here – there is

Life After Online Video.

Younger viewers are a unique audience. They’re at once DVR-proof and DVR-savvy.

Why are they DVR-proof? Two words – live and social. They tend to watch events, either what the industry defines as “events” such as sports and award shows, but also what they consider to be “events”, such as the latest episode of The Voice or Glee or even Family Guy. They watch to be social, which means that for younger viewers, appointment television still exists. The leading edge is the tweeting edge.

That’s something that broadcasters keep in mind in the mobile space when developing apps and programming for second screens: for certain content, immediacy is king.

That doesn’t mean that younger viewers don’t accumulate in time-shifted viewing. Teens and younger adults “bank” programming like their “more experienced” compatriots, but it will likely be for shows that aren’t in their typical demographic watercooler, like Big Bang Theory or Revolution. They watch these shows in their own time, as these programs gather more viewers in time shifted mode. The season average Live+Same Day rating for Teens for Modern Family was 2.1, yet 3.5 in Live+7 Days.

There are some cable programs like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Catfish, or Duck Dynasty that get a fair share of press and are reputed to do well with younger viewers – although Duck Dynasty’s Teen Live+Same Day rating of 2.1 and Live+7 rating of 3.2 is nothing to quack about, unless you want to point out that cable’s trendiest show is barely on par with a broadcast show that’s way outside of the core Teen demo.

It’s important to remember that Teen’s interest moves around a lot, so you need to be “up” with what content is hot. And that’s the lure of broadcast events – they’re always going to be what’s hot.

Content is the driver. The screen is secondary. Given half a chance, teens would much rather control the remote than the mouse. If they’re entertained, they will come. Better yet, they’ll tell their friends, and more will come. Ask any parent – given the right programming, these content-hungry kids are still “app’t” to watch television.

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