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Does College Play a Role in Media Consumption?

2 minute read | January 2013

The 18-24 year-old consumer demographic consumes media where it can, when it can. Nearly half the viewers in this demo grab their smartphones at least once per day while watching TV, topping any other group. What’s more, the most recent Nielsen Cross-Platform Report notes that this group spends the most time watching video on the Internet—almost an hour-and-a-half each week.

However, according to a recent study by Nielsen based on the 2011-2012 school year, consumption differs within the 18-24 demo itself, and the variations are predicated on consumer lifestyle, education and living situation.

Given the variations, the study broke the 18-24 demo into five segments: extended home college students (live at school during the year, yet still part of their parents’ household), independent college students (attend college but identify themselves as independent household members), college students living with parents (live with parents and commute to college), college graduates and non-college students (not attending college and have not graduated from college).

Quick facts:

  • Independent college students were less likely to own a DVR, video game console, or tablet. In fact, 15 percent of college graduates owned a tablet, compared with 8 percent among independent students.
  • Extended home students leave the game console behind. While 72 percent of this group has a game console in their primary residence, that number drops to 53 percent when this group is in their extended homes, such as a college dorm room. The DVR also sees a dramatic decline with this group. Sixty-six percent has a DVR in their primary household, compared with just 9 percent when they’re away at school and perhaps saving their pennies for other forms of entertainment.
  • Extended home students have an appetite for streaming video. Among the total minutes they spend on days they watched TV and streamed content on their PCs, 18 percent of time was spent streaming and 82 percent spent watching a traditional TV. This group streams more than other 18-24 year olds.
  • The study also revealed that higher education leads to increased smartphone penetration. In Q2 2012, smartphone penetration was 63 percent among viewers 18-24 years old whose highest level of education was high school graduate or less. The penetration was 76 percent for college grads or above during the same quarter—a possible indication that higher earning power means being able to afford higher-level technology.

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