Just 55% of millennials in the US use TVs as their primary viewing platform, while streaming devices (laptops, tablets, and smartphones) are poised to dominate their viewing preferences, according to the preliminary results of the second NATPE|Content First and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) joint research study on consumers’ attitudes toward television viewing.

CEA and NATPE commissioned the study, conducted by E-Poll Market Research, to evaluate the TV content distribution landscape, explore the dynamics at play against the background of exploding consumer choices and determine how consumers find TV content and view it across different platforms.

“Our study confirms that the paradigm for TV content discovery has changed dramatically with increased availability and use of TV content streaming options,” said NATPE president and CEO Rod Perth.

“With more than seven in 10 viewers in broadband households having streamed full-length TV programs in the past six months, there are opportunities for networks and content producers to reach and build audiences.”

“While the vast majority of consumers continue to watch television programming on their TV, many consumers, particularly millennials, increasingly are turning to a variety of devices to view their TV content,” said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro.

“This has profound implications for the way CE manufacturers market their products as they try to reach diverse markets.”

Although many viewers of streaming programs say they are watching more TV programs overall, the joint study shows a decline in the amount of time spent watching live television programs during their scheduled air time. This is particularly true of the younger, millennial demographic which has some distinctive, common characteristics, including the regular use of multiple sources of program content.

Among the study’s findings: The millennial demographic group – age 13 to 34 – is comfortable using many different sources of TV programme content and consequently are significantly more likely to consume full-length TV programs from a streaming source (84% streamed in the past six months) than live TV programming at its original air time (54%), or recorded content from a PVR (33%).

Millennials value their Netflix subscriptions more than broadcast or cable. Millennials also value their ability to stream content above cable or broadcast channels.

The ability to choose what they want to watch when they want to watch it is of high value to all three generational groupings, but particularly among millennials. In the study, 51% consider subscription to Netflix “very valuable,” compared to 42% for broadcast channels, and 36% for cable subscriptions.

Gen Xers tend to be the heaviest users of their cable/satellite/telco time shifting offerings including video on demand (VOD) and PVR. Among those in this age group who have access to VOD, 76% use their VOD service once a week or more often, similar to SVOD usage. The study found DVRs are primarily used to avoid commercials, while VOD is for convenience.

The study found increased multi-screen viewing of TV programming is a central factor in reaching younger target audiences. While the TV set is still the most commonly used device for watching TV programs, among the millennial group there are some distinct differences in their use and preference for multiple screens. Among these findings:

Portability is the trend. About half of millennials say they watch TV programming on a laptop, and for 19%, it’s their preferred TV viewing screen. Another 28% watch television on a tablet and 22% on a smartphone.

Portability and the ability to watch anywhere is a key benefit in their use of multiple screens due to a greater comfort level with smaller screen sizes compared to older generations.

While nine in 10 viewers say they watch TV programming on a television set, millennials are significantly less likely to do so (85%). In terms of preference, only 55% of millennials select a television set as the preferred screen for viewing television content.

The full study and additional findings will be released later this month at the NATPE|Miami conference (January 20-22, 2015).