- April 14, 2020

Understanding Media Consumption During the Coronavirus Pandemic in Canada

Bryan Segal
Bryan Segal
Senior Vice President, Commercial

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, millions of Canadians are staying home and turning to their computers, smartphones, and tablets as a core source of news, information, education, and entertainment.

This article is part of a series of insights that reveal a Canadian perspective on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer behavior and significant audience shifts across digital platforms. This week we will highlight some of the major category changes reflected as of the week March 23 - 29, 2020.

Key themes:

  1. Digital consumption continues to grow, although at a slower pace
  2. Canadians are still consuming news at a record pace, but growth is slowing
  3. Sports and Real Estate declines are slowing
  4. Retail overall is stable but key categories like Toys, Apparel, and Books are increasing in consumption
  5. Canadian usage in Dating, Pets, Food, and Family & Youth Education on the rise

Total Digital Population
An analysis of Canadian Total Digital Media consumption looking at the percent change from week of March 23, 2020 to March 29, 2020 from the previous week of March 16, 2020 to March 22, 2020 showed continued increase of Unique Visitors (UVs), Visits, and Minutes, but does reveal that some increases are at a slower rate than previous weeks. Unique Visitors grew by +1%, Visits by +2%, and Minutes by +5%. At a top line that is still substantial growth, but throughout this release we will give insights into what is driving these increases, and in some cases highlight categories that are starting to show recovery.

Total Digital Media Consumption in Canada

News/Information Category
This category has been a huge focus over the past few releases given the amazing growth of Unique Visitors, Visits, and Minutes as COVID-19 became more prevalent in Canada. Canadians flocked to News/Information websites in record numbers driven by General News, Local News, Weather, and Politics. With that being said, during our latest week of data (week of March 23, 2020 to March 29, 2020) we have seen a lower percentage increase for the category. There is still growth, but the growth is at a slower rate. The category is still a huge area of focus and visitation and engagement are near record high levels.

News Information Category Consumption in Canada

Retail Category
The Retail category has also been a particular focus as bricks and mortar shopping has significantly changed, and in some places closed where they are deemed non-essential. Overall, the Retail category has seen a pretty flat line of growth in Unique Visitors, Visits, and Minutes. That being said, we have seen some sub-categories show growth that is greatly over-indexing.

Retail Category Changes

This growth in the Retail category is being driven by these subcategories: Toys, Books, Apparel, Sports/Outdoor, Department Stores/Malls. Toys is leading the charge with a 27% week-over-week growth in Unique Visitors.

Retail Category Digital Media Consumption in Canada

Sports and Real Estate Categories
The Sports and Real Estate categories have been two of several categories hit by major decreases in visitation and engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

With live sports on hold for most of the major sports leagues in North America – there has been a decline across the board. That being said, during the week of March 23, 2020 to March 29, 2020 for the first time since our COVID-19 analysis began we have seen a decrease in the rate of decline in Visitation, and an in fact an increase in week-over-week Minutes.

Sport Category

In terms of the Real Estate category, we have seen small week-over-week decreases with -3% in Unique Visitors, -7% in Visits, and -6% in Minutes – compared to the double-digit declines in the past few weeks.

Real Estate Category

Other Categories of Interest
There were a few other categories that hit our radar this week when looking at the data. These categories have seen week-over-week increases – that show Canadians are increasing Visitation and Engagement with this content. Many of these categories reflect the reality that people are isolated at home – with either kids (whom they must entertain and educate) or without kids or a partner – and they are looking to meet new people (Dating). The Pets category showed big increases, and Lifestyle – Food showed increases in activity. Canadians are apparently focused on love, kids, pets, and their tummies!

Selected Categories Digital Media Consumption in Canada

Coronavirus Insights

Read our ongoing updates on shifting consumption trends and the resulting impact on the advertising and media industries on comscore.com/Coronavirus.

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