They also spend less on their overall cable package because of the availability of digital video like Google's (GOOG) YouTube. The report cited a July 2013 survey by Altman Vilandrie, in which 47% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 40% of 25- to 34-year-olds said they spent less on cable due to digital video.
Still, Nielsen estimates that millennial viewers average more than 100 hours per month watching traditional TV shows, as of the fourth quarter of 2013. Popular TV series form a "major portion" of millennials' video viewing such as HBO's Girls, Pivot's hitRECord on TV, including sports and comedy shows, eMarketer said. The group may not be actually watching them on a TV set, but rather mobile devices.
Despite that, live TV is "far from dead" for the demographic, eMarketer noted. Approximately 60% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 72% of 25- to 34-year-olds "watch shows on TV during their normal broadcast time" at least weekly, the Altman Vilandrie survey found.
Cable companies are vying for viewership as price competition heats up, but it's content that they know will keep viewers watching. Time Warner reported first-quarter earnings of 91 cents a share that exceeded Wall Street estimates by 3 cents. Revenue climbed to $7.5 billion, also beating a consensus analyst estimate of $6.7 billion, fueled by top grossing The LEGO Movie at its Warner Bros. subsidiary and home video sales of Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season boosting HBO's revenue for the quarter by 9% to $1.34 billion.
Time Warner also said that its cable-TV Turner unit, which includes TBS and TNT, reported a 5% gain in revenue to $2.59 billion, spurred in part by a particularly exciting NCAA men's basketball tournament.
--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.