Revisited: Media Consumption during the Coronavirus Pandemic
We have seen unprecedented activity and intriguing patterns in media consumption throughout the current pandemic. As this global pandemic has changed how consumers connect with news, entertainment and more, our data have begun to reveal what consumer behaviors may start to look like post-pandemic.
Comscore has reported its insights consistently throughout the past few months, and in this post we plan to revisit our first set of insights to see how media consumption has changed since mid-March 2020.
Total digital visits (mobile and desktop) across ten key categories peaked during the week of April 20-26, 2020 with 64.3 billion digital visits. Since then, total digital visits have slowly declined, but remain over 30% higher than pre-pandemic levels. These data suggest that while consumers are spending less time online now than at the height of the lockdowns, digital behavior is still significantly more prevalent than it was pre-coronavirus.
In looking at non-weather news sites, total visits during the pandemic peaked during the week of April 13-19, 2020 with 8.5 billion total visits. Since mid-May 2020, total digital visits to news sites have remained somewhat steady. The week of July 27-August 2, 2020 saw 7.4 billion visits, which is still 28% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
For the retail category, we analyzed a competitive set of aggregate visitors to Amazon, Walmart, Costco, Best Buy and Target’s sites. We saw total digital visits for this group of retail sites peak in mid-to-late April 2020, especially as consumers were increasingly shifting their grocery spending to online sources. After declining for several weeks, visitation to these retail sites again picked up in July 2020, reaching 1 billion visits during the week of July 27-August 2, 2020. This is a 50% increase in visitation over pre-pandemic levels, and the 14th week since the end of March 2020 that visitation to these 5 sites combined has topped 1 billion.
Usage of top government sites peaked early on during the pandemic, as consumers flocked to sites such as the CDC, NIH, and the WHO to find information about the coronavirus. The peak in digital visits to these sites was during the week of March 23-29, 2020. Since then, visits to government sites have quickly returned to near-normal pre-pandemic levels. There were 14.9 million digital visits to government sites during the week of July 27-August 2, 2020, which is only 11% higher than pre-pandemic levels and 72% lower than the peak week.
Travel, one of the hardest-hit categories during the pandemic, shows a very different trend than other categories we have reviewed. This category is broad, and includes all forms of travel, including airlines, aggregators, hospitality, etc. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we see an inverse pattern from previous categories. Instead of a peak with a slow decline, we saw plummeting visitation at the beginning of the pandemic, and a slow climb since. Visitation to travel sites reached a low of 362 million during the week of March 30-April 5, 2020. This came after a peak during the week of March 9-16, 2020, likely caused by increased travel changes and cancellations as a result of the onset of pandemic restrictions.
Since late March 2020, visitation to travel sites has slowly and steadily risen—during the week of July 27-August 2, 2020, visitation reached 525 million. This is still nearly 40% lower than pre-pandemic levels, but a 45% increase over the low point during mid-March 2020. With the uncertainty surrounding the future of the virus and a potential vaccine, travel will likely take a while to return to its pre-pandemic digital visit levels. However, growth in visits since late March 2020 are a promising sign that the category may be on the right path for a recovery.
The number of television sets in use (SIU) peaked during the week of March 23-29, 2020, one of the first weeks of broad “stay at home” restrictions. SIUs remained high, above 40%, for about the next month, but started to gradually decline during late April 2020. SIUs approached pre-pandemic levels in late June 2020, but began to increase again in July 2020, possibly due to spikes in cases and the reimplementation of some restrictions.
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