Mar 10, 2021 - Technology

The pandemic sped the shift to digital media

Average time U.S. adults spend each day with media

The COVID-19 crisis drove digital media consumption to new heights, while traditional media stagnated, according to data from eMarketer.

What's happening: Even before the pandemic, but especially after, time American adults spent on smartphones and smart TVs skyrocketed while time spent on devices like radio and linear television continued to decline.

Why it matters: Media companies that hadn't already begun to realign their businesses around streaming and mobile were caught flat-footed by the pandemic's digital boom. Those that did have been rewarded.

Driving the news: Disney said Tuesday that its streaming service Disney+ surpassed 100 million subscribers in just 16 months.

  • Its subscriber base is roughly half the size of Netflix's, which launched subscription streaming more than a decade ago.
  • Disney's streaming success has helped the entertainment giant survive economic headwinds driven by the closing of parks and resorts during the pandemic.

By the numbers: Time spent with media overall increased significantly during the pandemic, thanks to lockdowns that people spent online.

  • Time spent with digital increased 15% last year from 2019 to 7 hours, 50 minutes daily.
  • Connected TV saw a 33.8% increase in usage last year, to 1 hour, 17 minutes per day.
  • Subscription streaming saw a 33.9% increased in usage to 1 hour, 12 minutes per day.
  • Digital audio saw a 8.3% increase in usage to 1 hour, 29 minutes per day.

What to watch: eMarketer predicts that that these formats will claim even more daily media time going forward. Traditional TV, social media, tablets, and desktops/laptops will likely decrease in usage this year compared to 2020.

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