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How Media Consumption is Changing During These Unprecedented Times

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to affect our day-to-day experiences across the globe with stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, most people are turning to media to remain entertained while staying safe indoors. Although different generations are consuming media in different ways, what the average consumer has in common, is an increase in media consumption overall. Global Web Index found that over 80% of consumers in the U.S. and U.K. have consumed more content since the outbreak, with broadcast TV and online videos being the primary mediums across all generations and genders.

Altogether, the large increase in media consumption is mostly due to an increase of the following activities: searching for coronavirus updates, listening to music (check out what our team is listening to here), watching movies and shows, searching for cooking recipes (I personally have given into the hype and made banana bread… multiple times) and reading business/finance articles and relevant news. Unsurprisingly, the majority of online activity is spent seeking out pandemic updates online over all other activities. However, Gen Z, is the only generation more inclined to be listening to music than searching for news.

Here is a brief outline of prevelant media outlets and how their consumption has changed as a result of COVID-19.


Two words: binging and broadcasting. Connected TV inventory has increased, from Subscription Video On Demand to Virtual Service Provider/virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributors to Ad-Supported Video On Demand. Broadcast news is preferred when it comes to breaking news due to our longstanding trust in the medium as consumers, and the speed and dependency of updated information.

As advertisers, there is certainly an opportunity for brands to engage with their ideal audience during these times and be there for them. But how do these overall themes apply to their audiences and the specific generations themselves? Gen X and Boomers have increased their Broadcast TV watching around as much as 40%. Gen X, specifically, has increased their TV watching more than any other generation. Millennials have consumed more content across several media types, including online video (increasing 44%), online TV/streaming (increasing 41%) and broadcast TV (increasing 35%).

Online Publishers

As mentioned earlier, the majority of online activity is spent seeking out pandemic updates online. When I say “majority,” I mean 68% of consumers are seeking out pandemic updates online over any other activity. As an ongoing result of COVID-19, select publishers are allowing free online access to news and information, regardless of existing paywalls or article limits. Similar to broadcast TV, people are relying on trusted news sources for their day-to-day updates. With continual updates to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders, consumers are relying on and increasing their time spent with these news outlets. For example, according to, CNN’s traffic increased by over 30% between December and February and week-over-week usage patterns show total web traffic has risen by 22%.

Social Media

While social distancing has unfortunately limited our in-person interactions among friends, family and neighbors, the need for human connection remains. During this time, people have continued to keep up with family and friends but are shifting to the use of social media outlets to do so. For example, there has been an increase in overall Instagram impressions… and don’t get me started on TikTok! Time spent on social media has also increased as fitness companies offer free workouts, musicians are streaming acoustic concerts and local businesses are pushing out updates and announcements on their respective accounts.

If you are an advertiser reading this article, while there is a huge opportunity for media agencies to engage audiences during this time, I urge you to take away the different ways in which every generation is relying on different forms of media and it is especially important to remember to be sensitive with your messaging!

If you are a consumer reading this article, from me to you, I urge you to be conscious of what type of content you are consuming – while research backs that screen time itself isn’t a cause for concern, what we choose to consume can have an impact on our well-being. Let’s be mindful of the news, help local businesses and most importantly, keep it positive, people!

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