US Time Spent with Media 2021

Digital Media Usage Gains After the 2020 Pandemic Year, but Traditional Formats Fade

Executive Summary

The pandemic drove a dramatic increase in time US consumers spend per day with media. Most of those increases will stick in 2021. But traditional TV will lose all its 2020 gains, and other traditional formats will fall slightly further in 2021.

How did the pandemic affect time spent with media in the US in 2020?

In 2020, US adults increased their time spent with media by nearly an hour per day—58 minutes—to a new high average of 13 hours, 21 minutes (13:21). Last year, time spent with most media formats and devices grew, with digital media specifically seeing huge gains. Some traditional media formats like TV and print newspapers saw growth for the first time in years, but others fell slightly.

Which media and devices will be the big winners in 2021?

Time spent with media consumed via “other connected devices”—a category that includes connected TV (CTV) devices and internet-connected gaming consoles—will grow further, primarily thanks to the rising popularity of OTT video streaming services. Smartphones will continue to dominate time spent with digital media on any device, adding to 2020 gains. Podcasts and subscription OTT video services will also add to their 2020 usage increases.

Which categories will hold onto 2020’s gains in 2021, and which won’t?

Traditional TV will lose 2020 gains and decline further. Digital video and digital audio will add to 2020 consumption gains. Social networks will largely keep last year’s increases, but growth will stall through 2022. Internet time via desktops/laptops and tablets will decline this year, while time with media on CTV devices and smartphones will grow.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report explores our Q1 2021 estimates of time spent with media in the US and analyzes which behaviors will stick in 2021.

KEY STAT: US adults will spend 13:12 per day with media in 2021. Of this total, 60.5% will be spent with digital media in 2021—and that share will increase to 63.7% by 2023.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Total Media Time Spent: Digital Media and Connected Devices Add to Pandemic Gains
  3. TV vs. Digital Video: OTT Video Service Usage Drives More CTV Gains, TV Resumes Its Pre-Pandemic Decline
  1. Digital Audio vs. Radio: Digital Audio Usage Rises Higher as Listeners Access Streaming Alternatives
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. Read Next
  1. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

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Audrey Schomer


Paul Briggs
Principal Analyst
Zach Goldner
Junior Forecasting Analyst
Oscar Orozco
Director, Forecasting
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst
Debra Aho Williamson
Principal Analyst

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