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Digital Streaming and Baby Boomers: Streaming Habits of the Over 50 Crowd

As a society, we’ve come a long way from the days of in-person video rentals and mail-order DVDs. As entertainment continues to evolve, audiences have adjusted their habits to adapt to new technologies and platforms. Baby Boomers are far from the exception on this front. In fact, they may be the rule. Radha Subramanyam, CBS’ Chief Research Officer recently told the New York Times “At CBS, we love older viewers. They watch a lot of television. And advertisers love them because they have tons and tons of spending power.”

As Baby Boomers increasingly turn to streaming platforms, understanding their preferences and behaviors becomes crucial for tailoring effective marketing strategies. In this article, we’ll give an overview of the unique viewing patterns of Baby Boomers, highlighting key trends and actionable insights that our marketing experts have used to connect more meaningfully with this often-overlooked group.

 

Why Streaming?

As the media consumption landscape continues to shift, streaming services have emerged as the new battleground for advertisers aiming to reach their target audiences.

Streaming has usurped cable as the preferred way for audiences to catch their favorite programs, accounting for nearly 40% of U.S. television consumption compared to cable’s 30%. Cable-cutting isn’t specific to Gen Z and Millennial audiences, either; according to a recent study, the 50+ market accounted for a larger percentage of overall streaming audiences than in previous years, and the median age of streaming network viewers continues to rise.

Unlike traditional television, streaming platforms provide advertisers with advanced targeting capabilities and detailed analytics, enabling them to tailor their messages specifically to the interests and preferences of older viewers. This precision in advertising is not just beneficial—it’s crucial in a market where Baby Boomers hold significant purchasing power and have distinct tastes that differ from younger generations.

Advertisers can also choose from a variety of ad types depending on their streaming platform of choice, with connected TV in particular offering advertisers unprecedented levels of precision and specialization in reaching older audiences.

 

There’s no doubt that Baby Boomers continue to flock to streaming platforms, with a Bain & Company study finding a “60% increase in US consumers over the age of 55 who subscribe to livestreaming, multichannel video programming distributors” between 2022 and 2023. But what sort of habits do they get into during their downtime?

  • By the end of 2022, Baby Boomers had doubled their streaming watch time from around 30 minutes a day to an hour, the largest increase in any age group in that same time period.
  • Older consumers don’t mind cutting costs by subscribing to ad-supporting tiers for streaming services, with 65% of 50-69 audiences preferring these subscriptions over their ad-free counterparts. This gives advertisers ample opportunity to put their brands in front of Baby Boomers, no matter the ad format.
  • Only 11% of Baby Boomers log in to their preferred streaming services through shared passwords. While younger generations have fewer reservations about mooching off of existing accounts, this also makes it more difficult to compile accurate data on these demographics. Because older audiences have a tendency to avoid password sharing, many streaming platforms can provide more comprehensive data on platform usage among Baby Boomers.
  • As of 2022, nearly 50% of U.S. adults over 65 are connected TV users, showing just how tech savvy older generations have become in the face of new entertainment technology

 

Reshaping Your Message

So how can brands position themselves as the perfect messengers for older streaming audiences? As we’ve discussed previously, Baby Boomers can sniff out disingenuous or surface-level messaging a mile away. Advertisers need to leverage their messaging resources to position their products and services as gateways to meaningful experiences, speaking directly to older audiences’ need for deeper meaning and emotional fulfillment. This doesn’t just mean choosing the right stock footage or swapping around a keyword or two; it means affirming the life values of older audiences the Fall and Winter seasons of life.

Meeting target audiences where they’re most engaged may sound obvious, but as Baby Boomers continue to effortlessly adapt to new technologies advertisers need to seriously consider ads on streaming platforms as part of an all-encompassing, holistic marketing approach.

Coming of Age can help you develop an omnichannel strategy that includes streaming in your marketing mix and target Baby Boomers in their preferred channels, taking the guesswork out of your targeted messaging efforts. Reach out to us at comingofage.com/contact to kickstart your next streaming ad campaign or read through more of our Baby Boomer marketing insights at comingofage.com/blog.

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