Millennials Couldn’t Resist Streaming These 10 TV Shows

And most are on ad-supported networks

Never fear advertisers, getting your brand in front of a millennial TV viewer may not be that challenging after all.

Millennials still watch a majority of TV live: 4 hours and 27 minutes every day in Q4 2015, according to Nielsen's Total Audience Report, released March 24. While that's 20 minutes less than two years earlier, and while streaming on a smartphone has grown 31 minutes (from 41 minutes a day in 2013 to 1 hour 12 minutes each day in 2015), most of the top 10 streamed shows these days are on ad-supported networks.

"It's not all that surprising to us," said Andre Swanston, CEO of Tru Optik, which tracks streamed TV programs. "The shows that perform best on [over the top] often tend to be the 'best' based on critic and viewer reviews, and quality content can come from different sources."

Tru Optik, which measures viewership directly from commercial OTT networks, found that while serial dramas perform well with millennial streamers, episodic dramas don't. "The NCIS franchise is among the most watched shows on linear TV, but none of those titles make the Millennial OTT Top 25," Swanston pointed out. Other shows that tend to be left behind are reality programs and news magazines.

Four of the top 5 most-streamed shows so far in 2016 are also in the top 5 for the full year of 2015. Owing to the big buzz it received for its summer debut on USA, Mr. Robot, which is No. 3 on the 2016 list, was No. 12 for all of 2015. Other shows that didn't make the cut in 2016 but were in the top 10 for all of 2015 include The Big Bang Theory, Better Call Saul, Empire, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Narcos. Many of the Top 10 so far this year, including Limitless, Fargo, Supergirl and Heroes Reborn, made their network TV debuts in the fall.

Here are the 10 most-streamed shows that had millennials glued to their screens in January and February:

10. Heroes Reborn (NBC)


         Christos Kalohoridis/NBC

9. Supergirl (CBS)


         Cliff Lipson/CBS

8. Fargo (FX)


         Chris Large/FX

7. Limitless (CBS)



6. Gotham (Fox)


         Nicole Rivelli/ FOX

5. The Flash (The CW)


         Diyah Pera/The CW

4. Arrow (The CW)


         Katie Yu/ The CW

3. Mr. Robot (USA)


         David Giesbrecht/USA Network

2. Game of Thrones (HBO)


         Courtesy of HBO

1. The Walking Dead (AMC)


         Gene Page/AMC

This story first appeared in the April 11 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@ChrisAriens Chris Ariens is the managing editor and director of video at Adweek.