How do viewers consume Pop Culture News – and what’s driving their behavior? To find out, MTV’s US and International research teams executed a study involving focus groups, clickstreaming, and quant in the US and 7 international markets.

Pop Culture News is a big category among young people. When asked which news categories they followed, 4 out of the top 6 were Pop Culture (music, entertainment, celebrity and fashion).

As a category, Pop Culture News is constantly evolving. Traditional stories like new TV shows, movie releases, and celebrity news are still significant. But aligned to this content are new angles and sub-genres like celebrity-generated content, entertainment nostalgia, playful advice (like “what dating is like in your 20s”), cats, and meme culture.

Preferred access is from TV and social networks. Three-quarters of 12-24 year olds prefer to access Pop Culture News through TV, and the same proportion prefers to access through social networks. Heavy access through social networks means there is more demand for real-time news in social feeds – and that implies a demand for a higher volume of news stories. There is also interest in ‘video content linked to the article,’ with 40% saying they like to consume news content this way.

Young people use different methods for accessing different news categories. While they prefer to use TV and social networks to access Pop Culture News, there are differences when it’s broken down by subject. They still access the music, entertainment and celebrity genres through TV and social networks. Fashion and beauty, on the other hand, are accessed more through social networking sites and print magazines. This may reflect the more personal and tailored nature of fashion and beauty content.

Clickstreaming activity reveals repertoire and ecosystem. Young people’s activity around this category can be tracked when a bug is installed in their browser. This revealed a wide repertoire of brands accessed, alongside other unpredictable and unplanned activity that appears like an ecosystem of interrelated tasks and destinations. Often planned activity leads to unplanned actions, with brand choice being the most predictable element.

The US study identified 5 core behaviors that drive activity in this space:

Lured by Listicles – Refers to the ‘pulling power’ of listicles as       defined by the playful Buzzfeed.
Gallery Zombies – Reflects the power of image-led content and how addictive and voyeuristic this can be.
Daily Emotions – The day is book-ended by ‘digest seeking’ on waking and ‘rabbit holing’ in the evenings. In between, there is an ADD-driven hunt for juicy content that likely peaks  after lunch.
Citizen Journalism – An activity with participation at its heart.
Sleuthing – What becomes clear is that Facebook and Twitter are sources that need validation and that certain brands are seen as authorities.

Behaviors change based on age. The younger demographic (12-18 year olds) is more likely than 18-24 year olds to access through social networks and to access at different points through the day. Also, different people show different levels of engagement, confidence, and being “in the know” when it comes to absorbing posts versus creating them.