US Time Spent with Media 2020

Gains in Consumer Usage During the Year of COVID-19 and Beyond

Executive Summary

Driven by a combination of the effects of the coronavirus crisis and pre-pandemic trends, the average time US consumers spend with media will rise by more than 1 hour per day this year, to 13 hours, 35 minutes. While receding somewhat in the next two years, the total will remain well above 2019’s level.

Has the coronavirus pandemic affected patterns of time spent with media?

Affected, yes. Transformed, no. Some trends have accelerated, while others have slowed. But patterns of media usage are mostly moving in the directions they were pre-COVID, with traditional TV’s temporary reversal of decline a notable exception.

What will be the big winners this year in time spent?

Time spent with social media, whose gains had stalled in recent years, is getting a boost. Smartphone time and digital video time are still rising, and with an extra-large bump in 2020. However, less commuting to work amid stay-at-home orders and the coming recession means an interruption to digital audio’s growth.

Will changes in 2020 outlive the pandemic and its economic aftershocks?

Partly. We think some categories (like social) will mostly hold onto the increase they’re seeing this year. Subscription video and smartphone time will continue to grow (albeit less briskly) from 2020’s elevated level. But traditional TV will give up most of its 2020 windfall.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report delves into our latest forecast on time spent with media by US consumers, highlighting the COVID-19 effect on our numbers while examining trends that pre-date and will persist beyond the current crisis.

KEY STAT: Largely, though not wholly, due to the coronavirus and the coming recession, we’ve significantly raised our forecast of how much daily time consumers will spend with media.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Crisis Time—and Beyond Crisis Time
  3. Summing Up the Main Time Spent Numbers
  1. More and More Video Viewing
  2. Mobile Usage in Not-So-Mobile Times
  3. Trying to Stay Social
  1. Key Takeaways
  2. Media Gallery

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Mark Dolliver


Oscar Orozco
Senior Forecasting Analyst

"Behind the Numbers" Podcast