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News consumption has skyrocketed in the U.S. over the past few weeks due to the coronavirus, according to TV ratings, web traffic, app downloads and social media interactions.

Why it matters: Without live sports and with Hollywood production put on pause, consumers are confined to the only type of new professional-grade content that's still being produced daily: news.

Data: Apptopia; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios (News Break is a local news aggregation app)

Driving the news: According to a new survey from TV analysis company Magid, 51% are increasing their consumption of news amid the coronavirus outbreak, with 49% checking on the news multiple times a day.

  • App downloads for every type of news outlet, digital, radio and television/video is up, according to new data from Apptopia. That includes downloads for cable news apps, national newspapers, and local news aggregation.
  • Cable news networks have seen viewership surge more than 50% since the beginning of the year, according to an analysis by television measurement company Alphonso. 
  • Broadcast newscasts are also seeing ratings bumps, with some networks adding more news coverage to replace reality TV and entertainment content to feed the demand.
  • Social media interactions on stories from a group of 10 major publishers have increased 56% over the last two weeks, compared to the rest of the year, according to data from NewsWhip.
  • Publishers are seeking their traffic totals spike, according to data from Parse.ly. Sites in the Parsely network have seen a 61% jump in page views over the last two weeks compared to the previous 7 weeks.
Data: Parse.ly; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Yes, but: The advertising landscape continues to experience fallout.

  • The advertising market is expected to take a hit as major companies in retail, transportation and other sectors pull back marketing dollars in response to consumer dropoff.
  • As Axios reported last weekend, dozens of newsrooms across the country are laying off employees despite major traffic and viewership increases.

The big picture: While live sports games, particularly NFL games, tend to dominate television consumption, a new report from the Video Advertising Bureau argues that TV news has been giving sports a run for its money over the past few years.

  • More than 40 billion hours of national TV news are now being consumed annually by adults, a 34% increase since 2014, per the report. National TV news advertising spend has consistently gone up over that time period.

Between the lines: In what is normally a scattered and decentralized media and entertainment landscape, the nation's interest is now concentrated around the same information and the same developments in the news.

  • Having the same shared priorities allows news to be shared much wider than in normal times.

The bottom line: In the era of a pandemic, news has become America's biggest pastime.

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.