What to Know About Gen Z Streaming Behaviors

Illustration of Gen Z people watching television via Roku device

New research on Gen Z habits and media preferences illuminates how brands can activate on CTV to break through with this generation.

By Katina Papas Wachter, Director, The Roku Channel Ad Sales, Roku

Gen Z is the second digitally native generation, after Millennials. But unlike Millennials, members of the Gen Z cohort — who are 10- to 25-years-old — don’t know a world without smartphones and social media and they’re used to having information and entertainment at their fingertips. Being digitally native also means they are also streaming natives. To Gen Z, TV streaming is simply…TV.

So how can brands break through to this generation and make an impact with their streaming ads? Roku partnered with Luth Research to survey 660 Gen Z streamers – 55% Roku users and 45% non-Roku users – to learn more about this generation’s preferences and behaviors. Below are some insights from the research that will help ensure your messaging and tactics resonate with this always-connected generation.

  1. If you wish to reach Gen Z on the big screen, TV streaming is a must. Almost half of Gen Z respondents spend a minimum of 2 hours per day streaming TV, according to research conducted by Luth Research in collaboration with Roku.[1] TV streaming is one of the main forms of entertainment for this generation, surpassing the time they spend gaming, messaging or watching live TV per day.[2]
  2. Gen Z multi-tasks while streaming, meaning cross-device strategies are likely to resonate with this generation. Eighty-three percent of Gen Z Roku users surveyed are engaged in other activities while streaming content over 60% are browsing social media or online on their smartphones while they stream and almost half are messaging on their phones while they stream.[3] While this might seem like a challenge in getting Gen Z’s full attention on the TV screen, it actually represents an opportunity to lean into Roku’s cross-device retargeting strategy and re-engage streamers on mobile who’ve seen your streaming ad on TV.
  3. Because Gen Z is so leaned into streaming, ads on streaming services resonate strongly. Seventy percent of Gen Z Roku users surveyed remember seeing ads while streaming TV in the last month, proving that streaming ads have an impact. This demonstrates streaming is a significant part of the brand discovery process for young people.[4] One in four Gen Z Roku users discover new products or brands from TV streaming ads.[5] And beyond discovery, they are inspired to act after seeing streaming ads. After exposure to streaming ads, about half of Gen Z Roku users have talked about a product or looked up brand info and reviews online, while 35% say they have purchased a product or brand as a direct result of seeing streaming ads.[6] From awareness to purchase, streaming ads play a major role in the Gen Z path to purchase.
  4. Gen Z wants to interact with the TV screen. Gen Z is used to making purchases on social media and transacting on their TV screen is a natural next step. In fact, one in three Gen Z streamers say they want to interact with ads and brands directly through their TV streaming device.[7] Brands can take advantage of this preference and stand out with Gen Z by activating interactive experiences on streaming.

It’s no secret that Gen Z has unique behaviors and habits. We’ve illustrated how brands canadjust their marketing strategies to ensure they’re meeting this cohort where and how they spendtheir time. With streaming TV at the heart of their entertainment experience, a robust streaming strategy should underpin any marketing plan that aims to connect with this audience.

Attending Advertising Week in person or virtually? Check out Roku’s session, “How to Go Big with Gen Z in TV Streaming​” on Monday, October 17 at 11:15 AM to learn more and be sure to see Roku’s full agenda.


[1] Luth Research, Profiling the Gen Z Consumer, May 2022
[2] Luth Research, Profiling the Gen Z Consumer, May 2022
[3] Luth Research, Profiling the Gen Z Consumer, May 2022
[4] Luth Research, Profiling the Gen Z Consumer, May 2022
[5] Luth Research, Profiling the Gen Z Consumer, May 2022
[6] Luth Research, Profiling the Gen Z Consumer, May 2022
[7] Luth Research, Profiling the Gen Z Consumer, May 2022