Pandemic boosts media consumption to fastest growth in years even as advertising and marketing spending falls
No surprises here: the pandemic has made consumers more attached to their screens than ever before. The coronavirus and its ensuing stay-at-home orders boosted consumption of media of all sorts, according to a global survey from PQ Media. Consumers spent an average of 53.1 hours per week in 2020 on media, an increase of 2.8% compared to 2019, and the fastest annual growth rate in five years. For comparison, consumer usage rose just 1.3% in 2019.
The 2020 media usage boost, however, was accompanied by a sharp pandemic-induced 6.8% fall in advertising and marketing spending—a 10-percentage-point differential, PQ Media notes. And the overall rise in consumption is not here to stay. “While the pandemic reversed some secular trends in 2020, we believe this was simply a short-term disruption of key long-term trends that will resume in 2021,” said PQ Media CEO Patrick Quinn in a statement. PQ Media says it projects global consumer media usage to rise by only 1.4% in 2021.
Media that benefitted the most in 2020 were already seeing gains in previous years, says PQ Media, noting the coronavirus accelerated existing trends. Among the big winners in 2020: social media, audio, video games and streaming. “There’s no doubt that streaming media as a group were the hands-down winners in an otherwise loser of a year for many media stakeholders, particularly those dependent on advertising-driven media,” said Quinn.
The data and analysis company also noted that while younger generations consume less overall media compared to older generations, younger generations use digital devices for the hours they do consume. PQ Media also noted a 2020 surge in video game consumption, even though years with new game console releases often see consumption declines. PQ says players tend to pause playing while waiting for new game releases.
The survey defines hours spent on media as time when a user views or otherwise engages, interacts with or listens to digital or traditional media content. Media includes traditional usage like listening to terrestrial radio, reading print books or newspapers, and digital activities like web browsing, video games, listening to audio and using social media.