Quarantine Drives New Content Trends
We’re through at least week five of our new normal. We’ve settled into an odd, anxious, uncertain semblance of a routine. Those fortunate enough to be working from home are getting accustomed to Zoom. We’re chatting with neighbors from across the street and we’re digging through our closet to find that old trusty red bandana to fashion our own medical protection device. At the end of the day (or the beginning, or the middle, or 2am), we’re looking for an escape. So, let’s take a closer look at how America is passing their leisure time.
The COVID Streaming Surge
Unsurprisingly, with Americans stuck at home, streaming services have seen a drastic uptick in usage. A whopping 568 billion minutes of content was streamed via a connected device during the first four weeks of March, an 85% increase vs. the same time period last year. The week ending 3/29 (the last week measured) saw 168.7 billion minutes consumed — a whopping 120% increase vs. the same week last year. Maybe the most shocking statistic of all is that our self-quarantine has turned an eccentric, flamboyant zookeeper from Oklahoma into a household name.
TV Sees Resurgence of Younger Demographics
A generation that we once thought traditional linear television would never capture have seemed to enter a time capsule back to the 90s. Teens, ages 12-17, are watching 46% more live linear television than they did a year ago. The most significant change, not surprisingly, is during the daytime. Teen viewership from 9a-4p has seen a 175% increase vs. last year. The increase can be heavily attributed to waiting for their parents to figure out the many virtual learning interfaces and mastering the common core math lesson plan.
Sports Void Leaves Networks and Their Viewers Scrambling and Unsatisfied
One of the greatest times of the year for sports fans just never came in 2020. We’ll never know who would have donned Cinderella’s slipper as March Madness was over before it started. MLB Opening Day, the annual rite of Spring, will have to wait and will likely look nothing like what we’ve grown accustomed to. We’re holding out hope that the NBA and NHL will find a way to salvage their postseasons. Tiger Woods will defend his Masters title… in November.
Sports networks have scrambled to fill programming with old games, sports talk shows with no sports to talk about, and some innovative live competitions, but the viewers are underwhelmed. The only sports program to surpass one million viewers during the week of 3/30 was FOX’s NASCAR iRacing, where pro drivers raced their competitors in a live simulation. ESPN’s debut telecast of NBA 2K featuring Kevin Durant facing off against Derrick Jones in a virtual video game competition, drew only 387,000 viewers.
If there’s one thing networks and viewers can certainly agree on, it’s “Please, PLEASE let us have football.”
It’s been intriguing to watch how this immediate drastic shock to human activity has affected media consumption habits. Only time will tell if these new habits will stick as we gradually return to normalcy.