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COVID-19 TV Habits Suggest The Days Are Blurring Together

COVID-19 TV Habits Suggest The Days Are Blurring Together

Key Takeaways

COVID-19 is blurring weekday and weekend viewing levels and habits; Monday is a more popular viewing day than Saturday.
Since early March, viewership has surged 8 hours a week per household, from 57 hours a week per household to 66 hours – or an extra workday’s worth of content.
We’ve also seen a 35% increase in streaming and web video consumption, across our entire broadband network, in addition to traditional TV viewership increases.

Just as network and xFi usage has risen dramatically since the start of COVID-19, we’ve also seen – to no great surprise – a surge in how much time is spent watching television. However, what’s most interesting is that when taking a deeper look at the data, we are seeing new behaviors we haven’t seen before, e.g., shifts in daily viewing patterns, changes in when programming is being watched, and ways content is being accessed.

We’re watching more than an extra workday’s worth of content each week.

The average household is putting in an extra workday’s worth of viewing each week - watching 8+ hours more per week than they were in early March, going from approximately 57 hours a week per household to 66 hours.


Additional hours of TV watch-time

The days are blurring together.

What our customers are likely feeling in self-isolation – that all the days are blurring together and it’s hard to tell which day is which – is reflected in daily TV trends we observed. Normally, we see noticeable distinctions between weekend and weekday viewing behaviors. Typically, customers watch far more programming on the weekend, and it’s also when they tend to take a break from their DVRs and watch more on demand content, including renting and purchasing movies. Since the start of COVID, these distinctions have blurred and weekdays are seeing viewing levels and trends akin to the weekend. As a matter of fact, in the past two weeks, Monday has become a more popular day to watch television than Saturday.

We’re watching weekend-levels of TV every day.

We’re renting and purchasing more movies on weekdays.

We’re not seeing DVR usage surge as much on weekdays.

We’re watching a lot more late at night.

We’ve seen a 40% upswing in viewing during the late-night hours suggesting customers are opting to stay up a little later than usual, with the largest increases happening between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. But apparently, they’re also sleeping in longer as we’ve seen a 6% decrease in viewing during the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

We’re watching more news. A lot more.

With journalists working around the clock to keep the world informed on the pandemic, we’ve seen massive engagement, including a 64% increase in consumption of news programming since the start of COVID, hitting its peak the week of March 30, the week the reported number of global COVID cases topped 1 million. Since that week, consumption has leveled off and we’re seeing about a 30% decrease in COVID-related voice commands.


Increase in consumption of news programming

We aren’t watching more light-hearted fare to escape all this.

The conventional wisdom is that, in times of crisis, viewers may prefer lighter content. Instead, they’re watching even heavier shows. Dramas, which are typically the most popular genre in normal times, have increased their share of viewing from 27% to 30%, followed by news (29%), comedy (18%), reality (15%), and action and adventure (15%). Aside from an increased appetite for news, and the absence of sports, tastes haven’t changed because of the pandemic.

Bar chart illustrating viewing figures by genre
Data is based off shows tagged as a specific genre. In some cases, shows can have more than one genre tag.

We’re craving something new.

Finally, we’re seeing a slow decrease in DVR usage, paired with a huge uptick in VOD usage (50%) and double-digit growth for discovery-related voice commands such as “what to watch” and “surprise me,” suggesting customers have checked off their TV bucket lists and are seeking new shows.

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