To state the obvious: TV viewing and streaming video will get a big bump with the coronavirus pandemic leaving millions of Americans housebound.
But how big a jump are we talking about related to the current COVID-19 crisis? When consumers stay at home amid broadly disruptive events, their media consumption rises nearly 60% — and even more in some cases, according to a Nielsen data analysis.
Consumers who stay indoors during major crises gravitate toward watching feature films, news and general format programming, per the research firm. Nielsen also found an average 61% increase in streaming video via the TV.
Nielsen’s analysis is based on data total TV usage data during two recent events: Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and a 2016 blizzard in the Northeastern U.S. During a four-week period in August 2017, total TV viewing in Houston rose 56% compared with the preceding period, according to the analysis. Similarly, over the weekend of Jan 23, 2016, total usage of television in the New York was 45% higher than the weekend prior.
With an increase in TV viewing, there’s a potential opportunity for advertisers to reach a bigger captive audience with brand messages. On the other hand, Nielsen noted, consumers “may not risk leaving their homes to spend” and so may not be as receptive to call-to-action advertising.
Traditional TV viewing has been dropping, as streaming video on TVs via services like Netflix has boomed. In the third quarter of 2019, Americans’ average time per day viewing live and time-shifted TV among adults 18+ dropped by 7%, to 3 hours and 56 minutes, Nielsen says. Time spent watching content on connected-TV devices increased 17% over the same time period, to 55 minutes daily. About 91% of all U.S. adults subscribe to a streaming video service (and 96% of respondents 18-34 do), a Nielsen survey found. Overall, 30% of U.S. consumers subscribe to three or more video streaming services.
Meanwhile, TV viewing among employees who work remotely during a typical Monday-Friday work schedule watch over 3 hours more each week compared with in-office workers, per Nielsen (25 hours and 2 minutes for remote workers vs. 21 hours and 56 minutes for non-remote workers).