Reaching the Millennial Market: How Network Infrastructure Plays Its Part

By: Michael Slovin Vice President, XFINITY Communities

In December 2015, Nielsen released its latest "Total Audience Report," which combined nearly five years of research to determine how Americans watch TV. The results found that younger Americans – those viewers between the ages of 18 and 24 – watched a little more than two hours and ten minutes per day from October to December 2015. This is a 20-minute decline from 2014 and, when compared to 2011, shows a 35 percent decrease in total time spent viewing television in this manner.

But these statistics only account for the number of "traditional" TV viewers. What about the ever-increasing number of millennials who are instead opting to watch their favorite programs and sports events from the convenience of their mobile device?

Reaching the Untraditional Millennial Generation Via Untraditional Means

In April 2015, Deloitte reported that the average household has approximately seven devices connected to its network at any given time, with that number expected to increase in coming years. This is largely due to the fact that 37 percent of U.S. consumers today own portable devices – an increase of 270 percent since 2010.

With the prevalence of these types of devices – and an increasingdependency on them on our part as a nation – it’s no wonder that these numbers are so high. Deloitte further reports that 56 percent of the television consumed by the 14- to 24-year-old population is done so on a computer, smartphone, tablet or gaming device. Adults within the 24- to 30-year-old age bracket come in slightly lower at 47 percent, which is still a staggeringly high number.

All of this research merely reaffirms the fact that our society is increasingly going mobile, which means that property owners and building managers need to be aware of how these new trends will affect their everyday life.

What Internet TV Means for Millennials and the Multifamily Industry

Residents today expect the same communications services within their apartment, townhouse or condo as they would get if they owned their own home. Network infrastructure is no longer a technical term that’s just the responsibility of telecom providers – it’s become a phrase that every property manager or building owner needs to know and understand in order to deliver better services to his or her residents.

Your residents expect to live-stream a basketball game from their computer, and then pull up that same website on their smartphone so they can walk down the hallway and go downstairs to pick up their mail – all without losing a second of the big game. They expect to stream their favorite movie from the
laundry room – without buffering issues – while they wash their clothes. And they expect to hang out at the pool with friends and pull up a funny YouTube clip as soon as it comes to mind.

But do you know the worst part about it all? They just expect it to work – and if it doesn’t, you will be the first person to hear about it.

How to Avoid Being "That Guy"

Let’s face it – most of us didn’t go to school to become a tech pro. But unless you want to start allocating time in your day to help troubleshoot network infrastructure issues for your residents, ask these three basic technology questions of any communications provider before signing a contract:

  1. How many service tiers – and types – do you offer? Millennials crave content, and it’s not uncommon for them to be streaming TV or music at all hours of the day (and night). But they also crave freedom – the freedom to customize their network services in the way that works best for them. Select a communications provider that offers a variety of different service levels – and service types – to ensure that your residents can choose the package that works best for them. Robust video offerings, innovative products and services that let them take their content with them virtually anywhere they go will be key for this always on-the-move audience.
  2. How high do your services scale? In an earlier article, I wrote about the rising prevalence of the Internet of Things (IoT). Millennials are especially quick to embrace these new "gadgets" because of their novelty, potential cost savings and ease of use. But when you combine smart washing machines, thermostats and toothbrushes with an already-strained network due to streaming TV and music, you risk encountering major bandwidth issues property-wide unless you have the capacity to scale. Choose a technology provider that can increase your network capacity without needing to rewire your entire infrastructure.
  3. How do I get help if I – or my residents – have any questions? Millennials want access to their Internet and TV services quickly, so being able to point them in the right direction if something goes wrong is paramount. As part of their standard contracts, some technology providers offer dedicated customer account representatives who are assigned to a specific property so that both management and residents have a real person to call if anything comes up. These customer account representatives can also help with service transfer requests, which can be extremely helpful for millennials, who are always on the move.

It may not seem like much, but asking these three questions can help you quickly narrow down your technology search, and finding a provider that can accommodate these requests will save you money and peace of mind well into the future.

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Michael Slovin is the vice president of XFINITY Communities, Comcast’s business unit focused on bringing XFINITY services to the multifamily industry. In this role, he is responsible for national sales, sales operations and developing programs that improve the community and resident experience. Michael previously was the director of business development for Sprint and general manager for Winstar. In these roles, he was responsible for building and leading sales organizations focused on the enterprise market. He brings more than 20 years of sales, operations and marketing leadership experience in the telecommunications and cable industries and has additionally held senior sales leadership positions with MCI Communications (now Verizon Communications). Michael holds a Bachelor of Science from Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management.