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How to Design Streaming Services for Gen Z?

Annie Gasparich

Product Designer

June 18, 2024


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Gen Z is a dominant force in the media and streaming industry, with 71% of them watching over three hours of online videos daily. This makes them a crucial demographic for video streaming services. As a result, video businesses wanting to maintain long-term growth should pay close attention to understanding and meeting this generations’ preferences.

With this in mind, we have researched the 7 areas that can make your offering attract, engage and foster the Gen Z market: attention spans, gamification, social media’s influence, device preferences, visual design, data privacy, and linear TV. We outline below some key takeaways.

1. Social media’s influence

Research shows that 85% of Gen Z discovers new shows and movies through entertainment platforms and social media apps. Additionally, more than half of Gen Zs and millennials, at 54%, prefer social media for TV and movie recommendations over SVOD services. This highlights social media's growing influence on younger viewers' entertainment choices.

While they prefer short-form content, nearly half (46%) regularly consume long-form TV. Social media platforms like TikTok, X (formally Twitter), and Instagram are key channels for engaging this demographic.

How to make sure of social media’s influence on Gen Z?

Streaming services should harness the influence of social media by sharing show snippets and engaging with fans. Shows like Stranger Things and The Queen’s Gambit gained popularity through social media buzz. "Fancams" are short fan-made edits of content, often edited with music overlays. This form of promotion harnesses user-generated content (UGC) principles to promote and entice new audiences. Influencer marketing and visually appealing content, such as those used for the "Barbie" movie, can further enhance excitement and FOMO.

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2. Gamification

As evidenced by 2023 studies, integrating gamification into your platform can show a 48% increase in interaction and foster deeper connections with your brand. In streaming services, it is used to create interactive and personalized experiences, such as offering rewards for watching content or participating in quizzes and polls during shows.

However, gamification can spark ethical concerns because it often relies on extensive data collection to personalize user experiences. This raises issues regarding user privacy, as the data gathered can be sensitive and personal. Moreover, the integration of gamification strategies can lead to practices that prioritize engagement over user well-being, potentially fostering addictive behaviors and excessive screen time, especially among younger users like Gen Z. Balancing personalization with ethical considerations is crucial to ensure that user trust and well-being are not compromised.

How to leverage gamification responsibly?

We recommend streaming services offer exclusive behind-the-scenes footage or bonus episodes as rewards for completing challenges or reaching milestones, like watching a certain number of episodes in a day. Additionally, virtual watch parties for highly anticipated releases could enhance engagement, allowing Gen Z users to interact in real-time with polls and quizzes.

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3. Device Preferences

Responsive design, where a product or app is designed for desktop and adapted to mobile screens, is common. However, for younger generations, designing specifically for mobile-first experiences is crucial. 

Gen Z, as the first truly mobile-first generation, relies on smartphones and tablets for media consumption. Therefore, streaming services must prioritize mobile optimization, ensuring seamless and intuitive experiences across devices.

How to respond to Gen Z’s particular device preferences?

Designers should focus on creating interfaces that cater to Gen Z's fast-paced lifestyle, ensuring easy navigation and captivating content presentation. This involves prioritizing clear hierarchies, intuitive icons, and gestures for seamless interaction.

Interactive elements should be easily accessible for one-handed use, with essential controls within thumb reach. Utilizing collapsible menus, tabbed navigation, and swipe gestures can streamline user journeys and minimize clutter. Employing responsive design techniques ensures seamless adaptation of content across various screen sizes and orientations.

Integrating social features like sharing buttons and social login can boost user engagement, similar to how Spotify allows users to share playlists and songs with friends. Additionally, enabling downloads for offline viewing caters to users with limited connectivity or those traveling.

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Interested in learning more about the remaining 4 areas? Download our full–length white paper and get access to more data and insights, as well as actionable recommendations from our Gen Z Product Designer Annie Gasparich. Check it out here.

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