How Gen Z's Preferences are Reshaping Entertainment

In today’s quickly evolving digital world, entertainment companies face a Gen-Z problem as they bet their futures on streaming platforms. However, the preferences of younger generations, particularly Gen Z and millennials, are shifting towards social video and user-generated content.

Reveals a significant preference for social video and live streams over traditional TV shows and movies, indicating a seismic shift in consumer behavior. Research shows members of Gen Z prefer to watch social video and livestreams (47%) about twice as much as TV shows (24%) and four times as much as movies (11%).

The difference is even starker than it is for millennials, 33% of whom have a preference for social and livestreams, compared with 27% for TV shows, and 18% for movies.

Younger consumers insights

Understanding the Gen-Z Shift: The Rise of Social Video

Entertainment giants, from Disney to Warner Bros are investing billions in streaming platforms, aiming to replicate the traditional TV model. Yet, Deloitte’s findings show that Gen Z’s viewing habits differ significantly from previous generations. With a preference for social video and livestreams, Gen Z is reshaping the digital entertainment landscape.

While Netflix has long been regarded as the winner of the streaming wars, YouTube emerges as a formidable competitor. With unmatched viewing time and advertising metrics, YouTube surpasses Netflix in several key areas. Its success among younger demographics, including Gen Z, underscores its potential to dominate the digital entertainment space.

According to Nielsen’s latest viewership report, YouTube has consistently outperformed other platforms in terms of view time and advertising metrics. Specifically, in terms of time spent watching content on larger screens, which is a crucial metric for major advertisers. YouTube has maintained its lead for 12 consecutive months. In January, YouTube accounted for 8.6% of viewing time, surpassing Netflix’s 7.9%.

Streaming trends 2024

In the long term, YouTube is poised to dominate not only on larger screens but also on smaller screens. This is attributed to its success in areas that hold great importance to younger demographics, such as Gen Z.

According to Forrester research, Gen Z demonstrates a nearly equal preference for user-generated video content compared to traditional TV shows and movies. 

Additionally, YouTube’s minimal presence in live sports, an area less favored by Gen Z compared to the broader population, further solidifies its appeal to this demographic. These trends suggest that YouTube’s influence is likely to persist and strengthen over time. It’s possible those preferences will change as they age, but that would mean reversing not just what they watch, but their preferred device.

morning consult genz insights

Social Media and Content Creators: The Power of Social Media Algorithms

Social media platforms have become the go-to destination for content discovery, offering personalized recommendations and user-generated content. Gen Z and millennials, in particular, rely on social media algorithms to curate their entertainment experiences, bypassing traditional streaming platforms.

Content creators play a key role in driving engagement and trust among younger audiences. As influencers and tastemakers, creators hold a significant influence over consumer preferences.

The emergence of social media platforms as primary sources of entertainment has reshaped the industry landscape. Social media algorithms have revolutionized content discovery, offering users personalized recommendations tailored to their interests and preferences. This shift has disrupted traditional media consumption patterns, with younger generations increasingly turning to social video and live streams for entertainment.

By collaborating with creators, media companies and streaming services can tap into their loyal fan bases and enhance content discovery and promotional efforts.

One factor is finding content. Social media services help solve the problem of discovery that can cause people to go elsewhere for entertainment. For example, 60% of Gen Zs prefer user-generated content videos because they don’t have to spend time searching for what to watch.

Social media platforms have made significant investments in enhancing algorithms that tailor content to individual users, ensuring a continuous flow of relevant and personalized material. However, it’s crucial to recognize that this dynamic differs significantly from traditional television viewing. Through social media, viewers have the opportunity to engage with communities of like-minded individuals, fostering a sense of belonging that extends beyond mere entertainment consumption.


Embracing the Gaming Community: The Role of Gaming in Social Media

Gaming has emerged as a powerful force with creators and live streamers driving discovery and engagement. Gen Z gamers, in particular, rely on social media platforms to discover new games and connect with gaming communities.

Gen z gamers take cues from content creators

According to Deloitte research, a substantial 63% of Gen Z gamers rely on live-streamers and content creators on social media to learn about new games. Additionally, 56% express a higher level of trust in video game publishers when their favorite gaming content creators endorse a game from that publisher.

Content creators and influencers within the gaming community wield significant influence over consumer behavior, driving game discovery and shaping gaming trends. As entertainment companies seek to navigate the evolving digital landscape, understanding and embracing the gaming community’s preferences and behaviors will be crucial for success.

Similarly, research indicates that 57% of Gen Z and millennial gamers find new music through video games. Additionally, nearly half of respondents are receptive to branded content within live service games, while over half express a desire for more movie and TV show adaptations of their favorite games. This underscores the interconnectedness of live streaming services, social video game platforms, and narrative-driven adventure games within the broader social media ecosystem.

For years, creators have served as a medium for promoting gaming titles and cultivating new fanbases. Gaming companies stand at the forefront, poised to lead the charge by delving into the intricacies of video games and forging partnerships with creators who foster and engage gaming communities.


As the landscape continues to evolve, companies must adapt to the changing preferences of younger generations. By embracing social media, collaborating with content creators, and understanding the gaming community, entertainment companies can navigate this shifting paradigm to thrive in the digital world.


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