Live TV has a big millennial problem, but it's holding its own against services like Netflix

There is a huge age divide in the amount of live TV Americans watch, versus how much they consume digital media, according to comScore’s new cross-platform report.

ComScore looked at the total amount of hours Americans spent with TV and digital media in 2016, and as you move down the age range, there is a stark shift away from TV and toward digital. Notably, while desktop digital media usage actually decreases in the 18-34 age range (compared to 35-54), smartphones are driving the numbers way up.

Here is the full chart from comScore:

The chart underscores what many in the TV industry are afraid of: young people just aren’t watching as much live TV as older folks are. While live TV and digital are roughly equal in the 35-54 age bracket, that balance tips steeply for younger Americans. And it doesn’t look good for TV.

Still, these stats don’t mean live TV is already in its grave. In fact, in many instances it’s proving rather sticky.

A great example of this is the way Americans are watching subscription video services like Netflix, known as over-the-top services (“OTT”). Netflix has almost 50 million subscribers in the US, and many of these households watch both TV and Netflix. Only 15.4% of OTT households are streaming-only, according to comScore. In those “both” households, live TV is maintaining its lead by a wide margin.

ComScore found that in households with both OTT services — like Netflix or Hulu — and TV, for every hour of streaming viewing, the household watched a whopping 5 hours and 28 minutes of live TV.

Here’s what that looks like:

And when it comes to live TV versus things like DVR or video-on-demand, the difference is equally stark.

ComScore found that 84% of total TV viewing was live, versus 14.9% on DVR, and just 1.1% video-on-demand (excluding streaming services like Netflix).

So while it’s true that Americans, especially younger ones, are moving their media habits toward smartphones and away from live TV, don’t be too quick to count TV out just yet.

No matter how much buzz Netflix gets, live TV is still a juggernaut.

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