American teens now favor YouTube over Netflix

A new survey says that American teens who don’t really know life without streaming now watch YouTube more than the previously all-powerful Netflix.

Nearly 10,000 members of Generation Z across 49 US states were polled in a new survey, conducted by Piper Sandler, an investment bank. The average age of those polled was between 15 and 16 years old.

The favorite apparel brand for most, it turns out, is Nike, and the most-loved social media site is TikTok. American teens also prefer iPhones over any Android smartphones (87% of them own an iPhone), and their preferred celebrity is Taylor Swift, the survey revealed.

31% of teens now own a VR device, up from 29% in the spring. The teenagers use Apple Pay the most, and they shop at Amazon. 70% of them have used Spotify over the last six months to get their music.

However, probably the most interesting giveaway is the fact that Netflix is no longer the primary choice for teenagers looking for video content. The subscription-based streamer has now been replaced by YouTube, Piper Sandler said.

Polled teens said they spent 29.1% of their daily video consumption time on Google-owned YouTube, beating Netflix for the first time at 28.7%. Time spent on YouTube rose since the spring, adding nearly a percentage point, while Netflix fell by more than two percentage points.

Americans teen now prefer YouTube over Netflix. Courtesy of Piper Sandler.

Hulu is in third place with a share of around 7%, and Prime Video and Disney+ remain insignificant, although they both gained timeshare.

What could be the explanation? Piper Sandler analysts don't really have a definitive answer, other than a possibility that there's now a wealth of choices in the streaming industry.

“We wonder if this is a push or a pull in regards to the changing consumption habits, as content on YouTube appears to be improving over time and the streaming industry becomes more and more competitive,” the analysts wrote.

Still, Piper Sandler’s senior research analyst Edward Yruma also noted: “Our survey points to initial signs of a slowdown in teen spending. Inflation reached its highest mindshare in terms of political and social issues, right behind the environment.”

This could be it. Most teens watch Netflix on their parents' accounts, and if their folks decide to save cash for more important needs by canceling their subscription, they have to switch to alternative streamers – preferably free ones. YouTube has a Premium option but is primarily free.

Besides, Netflix – just like other paid streamers – are constantly raising their prices. Teens might choose not to reveal this to a pollster but they might also be looking for and finding content on piracy sites.

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