The Pandemic Is Accelerating Time Spent with Mobile Video and Gaming

As Americans hunkered down under stay-at-home orders for much of March and April, they unsurprisingly consumed more mobile media. The added mobile time, however, wasn’t distributed equally. Some long-term trends, such as greater consumer interest in mobile video and gaming, accelerated as people sought diversion. Other longer-term trends, including digital audio, stagnated as commuting time fell precipitously.

This year, time spent with mobile video apps will gain 10 minutes, second only to social media. Overall, mobile video will gain 5 minutes, since video watched via mobile web has decreased as people continue to shift such viewing to apps or other devices. The growth in mobile video is part of a bigger trend toward digital video. We expect that the average US adult will watch more than 2 hours of digital video in 2020, up 19 minutes from 2019.

The pandemic accelerated a longstanding trend—digital video increased 12 minutes in 2019 and will increase by a further 5 minutes in 2021. The biggest growth is coming via connected TVs (counted with other connected devices below), but mobile video is steadily increasing.

At home, people are watching video of all types. For example, while traditional linear TV time will get a boost this year, pre-established decline trends will resume in 2021. Digital video across devices, however, is set to grow strongly for the foreseeable future.

We forecast that mobile gaming will also gain minutes as a result of the pandemic. US adults will play mobile app games for 26 minutes on average, a 3-minute increase. By comparison, mobile gaming added 2 minutes in 2019.

Jun Group, a mobile ad firm that places 85% of its ads within mobile games, saw in-app audience ad requests jump 98% between March 12 and April 5. Although this doesn’t necessarily indicate a doubling of time spent among mobile gamers, it does signify a substantial increase in mobile gaming.

Game developers have been actively trying to lure new users during the lockdown. Attribution platform AppsFlyer reported that in-app marketing boosted marketing in gaming apps in the second half of March, resulting in a 50% increase in in-app gaming revenues between mid-March and May 4.

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