Will Generation Z embrace over-the-air antennas?

Do you know a zoomer? That’s one of the nicknames to those born in the 21st century. Another name for this group is Generation Z. This is a group just starting to enter the workforce, meaning they’re making their own money. And when that happens, marketers start to pay attention. Learning the buying habits of a new generation is important if you’re going to stay in business. So will this group get interested in the antenna TV lifestyle? Here’s what I think so far.

A look back at other generations

A lot of times, demographic research looks only at baby boomers and millennials. But, there are six generations of Americans out there, and they’re all worth talking about. Here are the other five, in case the media has blinded you to most of them:

The greatest generation

These are the folks who fought World War II. There are still folks out there in their 90s, and they still have money. These are the people who bought the first TVs and they are fiercely loyal to watching live.

The good times generation

For some reason, we rarely talk about people born between 1930 and 1945. These people grew up with scarcity but benefited from the economic boom after World War II. They understand antenna TV and love watching the shows they grew up with.

Baby Boomers

This is the group everyone knows, of course. They shaped the 20th century’s path and they grew up on TV. Streaming isn’t always their cup of tea.

Generation X

The generation that turned “whatever” into a life goal grew up with television as its babysitter. Despite the fact that Gen X members run a lot of our institutions, they tend to be forgotten due to the group’s small size.


Another group that hardly needs an introduction, they are the first generation to embrace the internet from a young age. Traditional wisdom says they don’t care for antenna TV all that much.

And now we can talk about Generation Z

Generation Z is just starting to find its voice. They’re socially conscious, cynical, and practically impervious to traditional advertising. There opinions have been shaped by others in their generation, and they stubbornly refuse to go where previous generations have trod. Many grew up in a home where pay TV was used less and less, and they take the idea of instant, on-demand entertainment for granted.

Does this mean Generation Z has no use for live television? I don’t think so. Live television is a socially conscious medium. Yes, television broadcast towers use a lot of energy, that is true. But in the scheme of things they use less energy than the massive data centers needed for streaming. Over-the-air television is energy-efficient as a reception medium too. You don’t need anything more than an unpowered metal rod to get it. There’s no need for Wi-Fi, streaming boxes, or anything else.

Like millennials, zoomers are on the hunt for something authentic. And, where millennials found their authenticity in vinyl records, knitting, and ironic mustaches, zoomers will find theirs somewhere else. It could very well be that Generation Z craves the firsthand experience that their grandparents took for granted… of sitting in a living room passively absorbing whatever’s on the TV

TV is escapism

We tend to forget that for most people, television has been a form of escape. Today’s video landscape is littered with relevant, thoughtful programming but previous generations didn’t want that. They wanted a way to tune out the stresses of the day for a little while. Television brought them to a place where “everybody knows your name,” where you had “friends,” “good times,” and “happy days.”

The truth is that today’s teens and young adults have had it pretty rough. As kids they lived with a recession bigger than any in 100 years. We emerged from that into a world of political division the likes of which no one had seen since the Civil War. And in the midst of that, the biggest global health threat since who knows when. Don’t you think Generation Z deserves a little escapism?

I have a feeling that those people who’ve predicted doom and gloom for broadcast TV will be proven wrong. It won’t take long for some 15-year-old influencer to tell their 10 million fans about the zen feeling of pushing one button and zoning out to whatever’s on tonight. And when that happens, broadcast TV’s future will once again be secure.

If you want to be ahead of the curve, shop the great selection of antennas at Solid Signal.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.