A Look at How Millenials are Changing Television

By Drew Hendricks March 12, 2013

Ah, Millenials, that magical generation born in the 1980s and beyond. Every generation thinks the ones after them are pretty clueless, and that can be true in certain niches and instances. However, when it comes to television, Gen X and the boomers better take a backseat. No matter how trashy modern day TV is, Millenials got it there and they'll be taking it to the next level.While some people consider MTV completely outdated, it's still getting plenty of attention. No, there's barely any music on there anymore, but it's a prime example of exactly the kind of entertainment Millenials want and, in turn, what's being produced. Here's the breakdown of how Millenials have--and continue to--completely change TV.

Faster, Louder, Brighter, Now

Look to MTV for an example of this. Millenials want everything in easily digestible snippets, which is why--even though there's no music on MTV--everything on there still looks like a music video. Instant gratification is what Millenials are used to, and that's what TV is dishing up in droves. Snippets of conversations, flashes and montages that look more like a teaser trailer with plenty of get up and go is on deck.

Let's Record Everything

Millenials have the desire to record absolutely everything and turn everyone into a reality star. Platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Instagram help with this. Millenials don't want celebrities like Marlon Brando and Meryl Streep who they can't relate to; they want everyone on TV to look just like themselves (or a little better). This generation has the power to name their own stars--just look at Kim Kardashian as proof.

What Sensationalism?

Something that Millenials aren't given nearly enough credit for is their lack of need for sensationalism. They want to watch people on TV who do the same things they do. That's why shows like Catfish, Ridiculousness and Girls are so popular. Raw footage, shaky handheld cams and being able to relate directly to the cast (literally, via social media) is all required.

On the Other Hand...

However, when Millenials do want TV as a means of escape, they really want it. That's something that hasn't changed much. It's just that the days of Gilligan's Island and I Dream of Jeannie have given way to The Bachelor. When it comes to reality TV, this generation wants one of two extremes: really laid back entertainment or a magical world like no other.

Sitcoms, Dramas and the Like

Don't discount the TV world beyond reality for Millenials. It's obvious what some of the major changes have been when it comes to popular dramas and sitcoms that appeal to a younger crowd. Even in the non-reality sector, Millenials want a little reality. Look at The Office. Gone are laugh tracks and enter a documentary approach, mirrored on Modern Family, as the general set-up for shows that do well (and a great soundtrack doesn't hurt).

What's Next?

Television will continue to evolve to fit the demands of the audience. The largest TV-watching demographics dictate what's on the air, and by and large that's younger generations. There are many more Millenials watching their favorite shows on smartphones and tablets than Baby Boomers settling in for a night of zoning out.

A short attention span is a staple characteristic for younger generations. As each younger generation has more access to money and makes spending decisions, all markets will start to cater more toward them. Teens in the US spend about $100 billion every year, and a shocking 63 percent of that is their own money. Teens are working, saving at times and their priorities are no surprise: they want to be entertained. As long as Millenials have a good amount of control over the TV, it will continue to change into smaller, bite-sized segments with a raw edge.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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