The Pandemic Gives Traditional TV a Boost

2 min read
May 25, 2020
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Despite the lack of live sports to watch, eMarketer is reporting that the pandemic has increased viewership of traditional TV. This year will be the first since 2011 in which Americans increase their time spent with live or recorded TV. Surprisingly, the trend is present among all age groups. It’s not only older viewers, who already tend to watch more live TV. The new upward trend may be short-lived, but it’s still good to know for those deciding how to spend hard-to-find advertising dollars.

Traditional TV dominates video viewing time despite the recent downward trend. It’s easy to forget as streaming services pop up faster than new Netflix original series, but traditional TV still makes up for around 80% of the time Americans spend in front of the TV, according to Nielsen. On average, younger viewers spend more time with streaming, but even they spend over an hour daily watching live TV.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months as live sports return. The top German football league, the Bundesliga, has already resumed matches. Many other live sports are sure to follow in June. Many viewers will still be stuck at home, but now live sports will be there to keep them company. The pent-up demand for sports, coupled with a larger captive audience than usual, could lead to even larger gains for traditional TV.

However, as eMarketer notes, the losses in viewership for traditional TV will probably resume starting next year. Even live sports are beginning to be shown outside of traditional TV channels. That said, the recent bump is a good reminder not to ignore how much reach traditional TV still has all over the world. Traditional TV will be a key player for years to come.

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