12 FEB 2021

TOTAL US TV VIEWERSHIP DECLINES, WHILE TIME SPENT WATCHING INCREASES

an unexpected acceleration in cord-cutting led to a viewership decline by roughly 10 million, leading to approximately 204.million adults watching TV. Among US TV-watching adults, daily time spent with TV increased by 9.2%, to 4 hours, 31 minutes per day.

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Trends directly following the declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic include sky-high viewership, resulting from stay-at-home restrictions. According to a study released by Emarketer, projections made in Q2 last year are now deemed correct as traditional TV reverses its longstanding user and time spent declines. The high figures continue.

Emarketer previously indicated that the number of TV viewers ages 18 and older would increase by about 10 million throughout the year. However, an unexpected acceleration in cord-cutting led to a viewership decline by roughly 10 million, leaving the year with 20 million fewer adults watching TV than the original projection, reaching 204.2 million. Among US TV-watching adults, daily time spent with TV increased by 9.2%, to 4 hours, 31 minutes per day. As a result, TV time among the whole adult population increased year over year in 2020 for the first time since 2012.

US Average Time Spent per Day with TV, 2018-2022 (hrs:mins and % change)

 

Though sports event returns are projected to help the TV industry, the alternative streamer option is becoming increasingly popular. After declines in the number of adult TV viewers accelerated from 2018 (-2.3%) to 2019 (-3.9%) to 2020 (-4.7%), Emarketer estimates further declines of approximately 2.4% this year, and less than 200 million adults as regulars consumers, at 199.2 million. Digital video is the leading cause of the decline. Combined time spent with TV and digital video by US adults has held remarkably steady over the years: From 2013 to 2019, the two categories’ time spent sum hardly budged, ranging from 5:13 to 5:17 per day every year. Subscription OTT’s explosive popularity in 2020 was the main driver of the trend.

Time spent with digital video among US adults grew by 25.4% in pandemic-disrupted 2020 to 2:13, leading to a record 5:47 per day spent with TV-plus-digital video. But digital video’s share has never been larger. As digital video, digital audio, gaming, social networking, continue to become a larger part of the average consumer’s life, less than a quarter of US daily time spent with media will be with traditional TV this year, with fewer than 75% of US adults watching TV at all next year. The researcher’s latter figure was 98.8% as recently as 2011.

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