More Time at Home During the Pandemic Means More Content Consumption: Survey

COIVD impact on media
Yinchen Niu/VIP

As the U.S. approaches 12 months of living in the COVID-19 pandemic, the entertainment landscape remains shaken. As noted in VIP’s updated report on COVID’s impact, traditional media outlets that relied on out-of-home consumption, like theme parks, concerts, sporting events and movie theaters, have been severely impacted as states restrict public venues and consumers stay away.

But a crisis creates opportunity. With out-of-home consumption limited, in-home is increasing. VIP partnered with the strategy team at marketing agency Trailer Park Group to quantify which elements of media are on the rise in the pandemic.

Around 8 in 10 U.S. residents 23-49 reported consuming more content during the pandemic, with over half saying their content consumption had increased greatly. The obvious trickle-down impacts from this are increases in subscription and advertising revenues across various mediums as spend shifts to entertainment options that are available to consumers.

VIP and TPG took this analysis a step further by looking at how likely increased at-home consumption will last. We did this by focusing on people now working from home who previously worked in an office. Only one in four of these favor a full return to the office, with over a third wanting to keep working from home full time and 40% who wanted to spend some time in the office but more at home.

When asked what they’re doing with the time saved from commuting — sadly, we omitted “working more” from the list — the most popular option was watching more TV and movies. All forms of media consumption rose, along with quality-of-life options like cooking, exercising and sleeping, highlighting that areas such as video games, printed and audio books, podcasts and online news can expect to see higher revenues due to a combination of transactional and/or advertising revenues generated from increased activity.

Although watching more TV and movies was the most popular answer now that consumers were working from home, not all networks benefited. The majority saw primetime viewing decline in 2020, due to a combination of a lack of new content on traditional TV, more streaming services and social factors like spending more time with family increasing.

With the majority of those working from home wishing to keep doing so to some degree, it’s safe to assume the increased consumption of in-home media will remain greater than pre-pandemic. This is good news to podcast platforms, book publishers, video game publishers and on and offline video services, as additional revenues earned in the pandemic should not radically shrink, even if working from home becomes a part-time arrangement for most.