We continue our journey into how COIVD-19 has impacted media consumption with a deeper dive into local television. How has TV viewing changed and shifted because of COVID-19?
Nationally, TV usage is trending well above 2019 levels. As we can see in the latest update from Nielsen, Americans are watching more TV. Total hours per week jumped as much as 25% YoY. However, we can see steady declines of viewing levels moving closer to 2019 levels.
Source: Nielsen National TV Panel, Total Television Use is anytime spent with Live, Time-Shifted TV and any TV Connected Device
Not all markets look the same and trends seen at a national level may not correlate to a local level. So, let’s take a closer look at viewing in our home DMA of Richmond, VA.
The trends we are seeing at a national level mirror Richmond, with increases year over year. More people are tuning into local television than they were a year ago. Moreover, we are also starting to see a decline in Richmond, with viewing having spiked when COVID-19 hit in mid-March but slowly trending down at the end of April.
The question remains, what do these trends hold for the future? Yes, people are watching more TV than they have in the past, but will this behavior continue? eMarketer has recently revised their 2020 forecast for daily time spent with TV to 229 minutes, a 9.3% increase over 2019.
Crystal balls are hard to come by, but we do have one prediction. As we look forward, we feel that an increase in TV sports viewing is inevitable as live sports return (fingers crossed). They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and that certainly will apply to the world of sports. As an example, on Sunday, May 24th, The Match: Champions for Charity aired and delivered the most watched golf-telecast ever on cable TV. With the possible return of the NBA in July, sports-starved fans will certainly be there.
Time will tell how this will play out, and media behavior will continue to evolve as we move through this COVID-19 crisis. As always, the team here at LMP will continue to monitor changing consumer behaviors and provide updates on the impact these behaviors will have on media consumption.