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TV & streaming

Do you prefer YouTube or Netflix? It might come down to how old you are

It’s no secret that different age groups stream different content. But where’s the line in the sand that determines whether someone gravitates toward Netflix or YouTube?

According to new survey data presented by Publisher’s Clearing House, the magic number is 45.

  • Below 45 years old, surveyed users more often used a CTV (short for “connected TV,” a television with internet access and streaming capabilities) to check out YouTube.
  • Respondents older than 45, on the other hand, primarily checked out Netflix.

For the under-45 crowd, the monthly viewing habit gap between YouTube and Netflix was small: 35.2% of viewers accessed YouTube in that timeframe, while 33.6% popped into Netflix. 

The 45-and-older demographic had a larger gap in app usage: 28.4% of CTV users in this demo went to Netflix, but only 22.2% did so for YouTube.

What separates the apps, in viewers’ eyes?

No matter how it’s sliced, YouTube and Netflix are still gold and silver on the podium of “most viewed streaming apps.” They just switch places depending on which age demographic is being considered.

While the data doesn’t reveal what factors drove the disparity, it could boil down to older viewers preferring Netflix’s curated, professionally presented entertainment as opposed to YouTube’s wildly inconsistent “everything store” approach. Content ranging from cat videos and conspiracy theories to crab apple critiques are thrown at you on the same page.

How Paramount+, HBO Max and the rest fare

Viewers over and under 45 shared a lot of the same habits, outside their differing preferences for YouTube or Netflix. For both demographics, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+ came in third, fourth and fifth place respectively — likely because all these services offer a wide variety of content for viewers of all age groups.

The same sentiment applies to Paramount+, which also ranked similarly among both groups. Again, that’s likely due to having a variety of good “all-rounder” family-friendly content.

The only major shakeup between demographics (besides who’s in first place) was the prominence of HBO Max.

  • Just over 19% of viewers under 45 checked it out monthly.
  • Only 13.3% in the older crowd bothered with the streamer.
  • That could be because the service has placed an emphasis on content targeted at younger crowds, such as “Euphoria” and the video game adaptation “The Last of Us.”

YouTube’s plan to edge out Netflix

Rumor has it that YouTube will formally launch a free ad-supported TV channel at some point — meaning it’ll have a 24/7 space for premium content. Think Lionsgate movies and other such vetted entertainment.

This could make it a more attractive alternative for older folks currently enjoying the hottest Netflix films and shows.

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