How Americans Will Consume Media in 2021 and Beyond

BY Rachel Cagle
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Americans developed a new love for media over the course of the pandemic. For an entire year-​and-​a-​half, many of us had little to do outside of our homes. Well, nothing but consume media while social distancing. It was our primary source of entertainment. While the world has begun opening back up, Americans still actively seek out entertainment. And habits developed over the course of the pandemic will not fall to the wayside any time soon. That is, not all of them, anyway.

How Americans Will Consume Media in 2021 and Beyond

COVID-​19 Levels of Consumption

According to a report by eMarketer, the average amount of time Americans spent consuming media on a daily basis during the pandemic increased by 58 minutes last year. That resulted in an all-​time high level of media consumption at 13 hours and 21 minutes per day. Both digital and traditional forms of media had their consumption levels rise. Last year, the media types that experienced the most significant levels of consumption growth were:

  • Mobile: Experienced an increased consumption time of 31 minutes daily (for a total of four hours and 16 minutes total per day)
  • Social Media: Increased by 11 minutes daily (one hour and three minutes total)
  • Desktop/​Laptop: Increased by nine minutes (two hours and three minutes total)
  • Online Video: Increased by seven minutes (49 minutes total)
  • Traditional TV: Increased by six minutes (three hours and 33 minutes total)

Post-​Pandemic Levels of Consumption

While Americans are expected to not consume as much media this year as they did last year, the level at which they take in media is still expected to be significant. eMarketer estimates daily media consumption will only drop by nine minutes per day year-​over-​year. Also, while media consumption is expected to fall overall, there are still some media types that will continue to experience growth:

  • Mobile: Expected to increase by seven minutes per day (for a total of four hours and 23 minutes per day)
  • Digital Audio: Expected to increase by six minutes per day (one hour and 16 minutes total)
  • Online Video: Expected to increase by two minutes per day (51 minutes total)

All other forms of both traditional and digital media are expected to remain fairly consistent. Only traditional TV consumption levels are expected to fall fairly significantly this year. TV viewing will likely fall by 17 minutes per day this year.

Digital media will account for the majority of sustained time spent increases from 2020 and will continue to grow in 2021,” according to eMarketer. “This year, US adults will add an average of 9 minutes to their daily time spent with digital media—even after adding more than an hour (1:01) in 2020.”

Advertising to Your Client’s Target Customers

While this information is useful to know in general, your client is probably hoping for more specific data points relevant to them when it comes to planning their next advertising campaign. To learn how your client’s target customers will consume media based on past trends, take a look at their profile on AudienceSCAN on AdMall by SalesFuel.

Photo: Elly Brian