The young receive much of the attention when it comes to tracking the progress of online video. However, it would be a mistake to discount older viewers. 50-64-year-olds, for example, are close behind the 18-34-year-olds in their online viewing habits.
50-64-year-olds closing the online video gap with 18-34s
According to Nielsen, 18-34s have adopted online video faster than 50-64s. However, the difference is not as large as many would expect. Let’s compare the two age group’s usage of the connected TV, the smartphone, and the tablet.
Connected TV penetration and usage
60% of 18-34s watch video on connected TV while 45% of 50-64s do the same. The average 18-34 watches video on a connected TV for 8 hours and 33 minutes a week while 50-64s watch 44% as much, or 3 hours and 45 minutes. However, looking only at connected TV users the picture changes. 50-64s watch 60% as much as 18-34s.
Smartphone and tablet penetration and usage
The picture is the same for the watching video on a smartphone. Penetration of the age group is lower for the 50-64s, 62% versus 57%. Usage by 50-64 smartphone video users is again 60% of the 18-34s. When it comes to watching video on a tablet, penetration of the two age groups is the same. Once again, 50-64 tablet video users watch about 60% of the video than 18-34s.
YouTube an important video source for Boomers
YouTube is one of the biggest sources of online video for the 50-64-year-olds, with 80% using the site. Billions in advertising are spent each year targeting seniors, and much of it goes to TV channels. Not surprisingly, Google is keen to point out YouTube might be a better place to reach baby boomers. The company recently published three unexpected reasons baby boomers are turning to YouTube.
Two-thirds watch entertainment
According to Google/Ipsos, 68% of baby boomers say they watch YouTube for entertainment. Top categories for seniors include general entertainment, music, and news. Top channels visited by old Americans include Star News, Fox News, and Watch JoJo.
Prefer self-help videos to a written manual
When baby boomers were growing up, the go-to place to learn how to do something was an instruction manual or self-help book. For example, for car maintenance, the Haynes Guide ruled supreme. Today, baby boomers are 1.3-times more likely to prefer a YouTube video than reading an instruction manual.
A third use YouTube for product research
Researching products and services was a laborious process before the Internet. People scoured newspapers, magazines, and mailers for information. They then headed to stores or showrooms to complete the process before making a purchase. YouTube provides a valuable short cut to this process for 1 in 3 baby boomers.
Why it matters
The young receive much of the attention in the online video market.
However, older Americans are not far behind in their usage of the medium.
 Baby boomers are in the age range 55 to 75-years-old in 2019, so about two-thirds of 50-64-year-olds are also baby boomers.