COVID-19 TV Habits Suggest The Days Are Blurring Together
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
We are seeing an unprecedented shift in network usage during these uncertain times, but it’s within the capability of our network; and we continue to deliver the speeds and support the capacity our customers need while they’re working, learning, and connecting from home.
We've seen a 57% daily increase in people logging on to xFi - Xfinity's digital dashboard to help customers manage their home WiFi network – and a 27% increase in users of parental controls features.