Mar 26 2020
Aubrey Lehrmann

How COVID-19 is Changing Media Consumption


The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly impacted our lives. From canceled events to shelter-in-place orders, the world looks very different than it did just a few weeks ago. People throughout the world have been asked to work from home, avoid gatherings of over 10 individuals, and eliminate travel in order to flatten the curve of infection. These lifestyle changes are impacting how, when, and where people consume media.

It’s evident that much of the free time that people are now spending at home is occupied by consuming media of all types. Here’s what the new normal looks like from a media perspective:

Video streaming subscriptions and usage have surged

During the first weeks of shelter-in-place decrees in numerous cities and towns, bandwidth for video streaming services increased by 12%. New subscriber volume for Netflix is also up, with over 250k welcome emails in one March weekend. Netflix is also increasing “winback” efforts to re-engage lapsed subscribers.

Connected TV inventory has increased

Connected TV streams are expected to soar past the 2019 average of 4 hours and 28 minutes per day.

Pay walls have come down and premium content is being offered for free (for now)

Select publishers are allowing free online access to COVID-19 news and information, regardless of existing paywalls or article limits. Additionally, content creators are getting creative in distributing offerings normally available for a cost. For example, fitness companies are offering free workouts, meditation apps are releasing COVID-19 stress relief content, and musicians are streaming acoustic concerts.

In-person interaction has been partially replaced by social media

Social distancing has limited in-person interactions. During this time, the need for human connection has been partially replaced by increased use of social media outlets. There has been a 22% increase in Instagram impressions and a 27% increase in TikTok engagement. Time spent on social media is expected to increase, while the types of activities are expected to remain the same (keeping up with family and friends, viewing news and entertainment, etc.).

Broadcast news is preferred

When it comes to breaking news, consumers prefer TV over other vehicles due to longstanding trust in the medium, as well as the speed of updated information. During this pandemic, we also expect the digital extensions of these TV broadcasts to see a significant boost.

Live sports viewing has shifted to streaming video services and gaming

Many live sporting events throughout the world, from NCAA March Madness to the Masters, have been canceled or postponed. The time spent watching sports has since shifted to other video content and video games. Among sports superfans, 61.5% also subscribe to at least one streaming service. Additionally, online gaming has skyrocketed by 75%.

Traffic to trusted digital publishers has increased

With COVID-19 reaching pandemic proportions, trusted news sources have become essential to day-to-day life. Self-distancing and shelter-in-place orders have increased time spent with trusted digital news outlets. According to, CNN’s traffic increased by over 30% between December and February. Overall, week-over-week usage patterns show total web traffic has risen by 22%.

Print publications are experiencing more hardship

Newspapers are significantly more likely to be purchased by people 65 years of age and older, who are strictly observing self-distancing guidelines and staying home. Additionally, the reduction in the number of commuters and travelers who pick up print publications has decreased circulation rate.

As the world adjusts to new habits, people’s media consumption has shifted too. We will continue to share our knowledge and resources during this time to keep advertisers and marketers up-to-date.

Are you looking to navigate through these industry changes? Connect with Centro to get started.

MRI:  2019 Doublebase crossing (NHL Superfan OR NBA Superfan OR College Basketball Superfan) with Household Subscribes to Streaming Service (last 30 days)