Will Gen Z save over-the-air television?


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As humans, we’re hard-wired to classify things. It not only feels satisfying to put something in a particular “bracket,” it was the difference between life and death for our long-dead ancestors whose lives depended on quick decisions. It’s that need to classify that makes us think that every 15 years or so, there’s a new “generation” of people. You don’t need me to tell you this. You might be a boomer, born between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s. You might (but statistically aren’t) a Generation-Xer, born between the mid 1960s and about 1980. And so on, and so forth, through millennials and now the newest group to influence the world: Generation Z.

Gen Zers, according to the traditional definition, were born between the mid-1990s and about 2010. That means the older members of that group are almost 30, while the youngest are teenagers. This makes them, at least for now, the most desirable group of people in the world for advertising. So, we as a society are going to care what these folks think. We’re going to listen when they tell us what to buy, and advertisers hope they can influence them and build lifelong habits.

Every generation does something surprising​

Ever since the idea of “the younger generation” and “teenagers” came to be in the early 1900s, each succeeding group has redefined what’s hot and what’s not. Baby boomers were the first to solidly reject literally anything from before they were born. Gen X were the first to care more about their parents’ culture than their own. Millennials redefined the very way we interact with each other. And now, it’s Generation Z’s turn.

Looking back, there’s always something surprising that a generational group embraces. Parachute pants? Thank Generation X for those (and then try to forget they ever existed.) Vinyl records in the 2010s? Millennials brought them back from the edge of extinction. Now, it seems Generation Z is bringing back something we thought was gone forever: books. It seems they’ve fallen in love with the idea of sitting in a comfy chair and looking at physical words on physical paper. I don’t know if you had that on your “trends to watch” bingo card, but I certainly wasn’t expecting that.

Could Generation Z fall in love with over-the-air television?​

When they’re done reading Jane Eyre, will Gen Z ache for another old-school experience? Maybe. I think it’s possible they’ll look at the experience of watching TV and find it both new and comforting. I know a few people from that generation. They grew up not watching TV. Their media consumption has been mostly TikTok and other short-form media. They’ve gotten everything in the palm of their hands, instantly.

This could very well mean that as adults they crave something that forces them to slow down and pay attention. That’s certainly part of the allure of books. A book makes your mind work to paint pictures. It makes you think and remember and form conclusions. TikTok doesn’t do any of that. (It’s a great medium, it’s just very different from a book.)

The same is true of live TV, sort of. If you watch live TV the way folks did in the 20th century, you can’t pause. You can’t rewind. You can’t even watch on your schedule. You’re forced to sit in one place at one specific time and there’s nothing you can do about it. You need to pay attention, because nothing will be repeated. If you’re watching scripted TV, you’ll need to remember from week to week. If it’s reality TV or sports, you’ll need to keep all sorts of information in your head. There won’t be time to search on your phone because you might miss something. It’s a completely different experience.

I think it’s very possible​

One constant in the last 50 or so years is that every generation eventually comes around to wanting the experience that they never had as kids. Baby boomers started wearing fedoras. Gen Xers discovered 1960s rock and roll. Millennials started knitting and listening to vinyl. I think that if a few Gen Z influencers started watching live TV, it could absolutely take off. And even more, I think it would save live TV as we know it.

Watching live TV means watching commercials, something that millennials and Gen Zers never do. That’s why most commercials are for drugs intended for seniors. But if live TV got cool again, it would allow advertisers to reach their favorite 18-34 demographic. This would turbocharge ad rates and drive up profits. Live TV may not ever be the “license to print money” that it was in the 20th century, but it could very easily bounce back from the hard times it’s having today.

The only question is, who’s going to take up the charge? I think the odds are pretty slim that any Gen Z influencers are reading this article, but who knows? If you’ve never tried live TV before, why not start now? It just might become your next new favorite thing.

The post Will Gen Z save over-the-air television? appeared first on The Solid Signal Blog.

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Are Gen Z going to watch TV via OTA or any other Traditional Live TV Service, easy answer , the extreme vast majority will not.

Unless it is on a device like a phone/tablet, forget it.

One time I went to my son’s house ( will be 34 this year), went in, on the couch, watching a movie on his iPad Pro with headphones, he has a 85” Sony X95J that I gave him when I upgraded, along with a real sound system , not a icky soundbar.

I asked him why he was watching it that way, said it was easier, I just could not believe it.

Then I thought about it, it was easier, but I would never do it, but the younger generation prefer the faster and easier way in today’s world.
LOL. No, Gen Z isn't suddenly going to embrace watching video mainly in live linear form on actual televisions with antennas connected.

If the broadcast networks and their local affiliate stations are to survive, they must become available in one or more direct-to-consumer streaming apps that are relatively inexpensive (i.e. around the cost of Netflix) or free. My prediction is that the networks will eventually become FAST channels but with their live sports removed or blacked out. To get that content, which is both popular and expensive to license, you'll have to pay a subscription fee.