Gender balance shifts to women in US digital TV consumption

Editor | 09-11-2012

Even though young male geeks are the still the early adopters for advanced TV services, the gender balance of digital TV in the US has shifted, according to new research by NPD, thanks mainly to a huge uptick in Hulu and YouTube consumption by women and girls.

NPD’s VideoWatch Digital has revealed that even thoughoverall digital video consumption is mainly the preserve of young men, women and girls (age 13 plus) watched over half (53%) of TV episodes streamed for free, driven by services such as and YouTube as well as network-TV websites.

Moreover, women accounted for only one-third (35%) of purchased TV episodes (i.e., electronic sell-through or EST) from services like iTunes, Vudu, and Xbox Video (Zune), and 44% of subscription TV streams from services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Drilling deeper, the analyst also found that the increased use of free-TV streaming among women and girls is driven by younger viewers, between the ages of 13-24, who represent a fifth of all free-TV streams. In addition, 70% of their free-TV streams are occasions in which no one else was the viewing the content. Furthermore, the demographic consumed content with a unique appeal including programmes such as the Vampire Diaries, New Girl, Secret Life of An American Teenager, Jane by Design and Switched at Birth.

Looking at how such consumption was being monetised, the survey found that younger women were also willing to pay to own movies and TV shows, which in large part reflects the value they place on the content. EST usage among younger women is on the rise, compared with VideoWatch Digital tracking from a year ago.

“Growing interest in watching TV programming on and other streaming sites is a natural evolution of electronic video and reflects the value of programming that is highly personalized to this audience, which has a tremendous benefit to networks and advertisers,” commented Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD.

“An important lesson for distributors of home video can be also be found in this data: namely, that women age 13-24 were twice as likely as average to also purchase movies and TV shows using EST – even more than their male counterparts. These findings highlight the fact that young women represent a valuable target for distributors who are looking to energise advertising-supported programming or digital ownership.”
From, a device perspective, female consumers age 13-24 were most likely to watch free streaming programmes on their computers (90%) and less on their smartphones (4%), tablets (3%), or on high-definition TVs (10%). NPD concluded that free-TV streaming among this group of young women may also help to encourage digital video ownership, since this group of consumers is more likely than men and boys of the same age to purchase a TV show download.

“Part of the popularity of EST and free-TV streaming among this demographic group can be attributed to their desire to watch niche content that especially appeals to them, but might not appeal to others in the household,” Crupnick added. “Young women also like viewing movies and TV shows on DVD and Blu-ray discs. From an ownership perspective, there is something that could resonate with a large percentage of younger women, whether it is UltraViolet or Digital High Definition.”