February 09, 2021

US Time Spent with Media 2021 Update

Pivotal Moments for TV, Subscription OTT, Digital Audio, and Social Media

A pandemic-disrupted 2020 led to even more time spent with digital media than we anticipated. US adults spent an average of 7 hours, 50 minutes (7:50) per day with digital last year, a 15.0% increase from 2019. That growth will mostly be retained in 2021.

Which time spent categories were the big winners in 2020?

Time spent with connected TV (CTV) increased 33.8% to 1:17 per day in 2020. This was largely driven by the explosive popularity of subscription OTT services, where time spent among US adults increased by a nearly identical 33.9% to 1:12 minutes per day. Among subscription OTT users, average time spent skyrocketed to 1:50 per day. Smartphone time also increased substantially last year, climbing 16.6%.

Which categories will hold on to 2020’s gains in 2021, and which will not?

Time spent with digital video, smartphones, CTV, subscription OTT, and digital audio will maintain their gains and continue claiming even more time going forward in many cases. Traditional TV, nearly every social network, tablets, and desktops/laptops will give back some of their 2020 gains.

Which time spent metric was the most surprising given expectations?

Earlier in the pandemic, we expected digital audio to have a very rough year. The loss of commuting time was expected to constrain growth dramatically. It didn’t turn out that way; time spent with digital audio increased 8.3% to 1:29 per day. And it’s expected to increase another 4.8% this year.

Traditional* vs. Digital Media
Traditional* vs. Digital Media: Average Time Spent in the US, 2018-2022 (hrs:mins per day among population)

KEY STAT: US adults spent 13:38 per day with media in 2020. Of this total, 7:50 was spent with digital media. By 2022, time spent with digital media will account for 60.2% of total US media time.

Copyright 2021 Insider Intelligence Inc. All rights reserved. From https://www.emarketer.com. Report by Ethan Cramer-Flood.

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