Six Trends COVID-19 Has Spurred in Consumer Streaming Behavior

By ZypMedia
April 27, 2020

Six Trends COVID-19 Has Spurred in Consumer Streaming Behavior

It’s no secret consumers viewing behaviors are changing. This year alone, there are 49M streaming households and 88% of consumers have access to Connected TVs. The global pandemic has shone a spotlight on how consumers are streaming and what platforms they’re using.

Here are the top six trends in ad-supported streaming as a result of COVID-19.


1. More Minutes Allocated to Streaming

COVID-19 has impacted consumers viewing behaviors due to sheltering-in-place and abiding by social distancing orders. In fact according to a Nielsen analysis, the total estimated number of minutes streamed to the TV was 400 billion, up 85% over the first three weeks of March 2020 compared to that same three-week period in 2019. During the week of March 16, Nielsen found consumers watched about 156.1 billion minutes of streaming content on TV, up 22% from the week prior.   


2. Increase in Streaming Users

With consumers being home with the whole family, COVID-19 has affected how families stream. We are seeing a rise in ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) services usage. Tubi reported from March 14-21, its total users increased by 22% and saw a 50% spike of new users. 


3. Longer Streaming Sessions

Due to consumers spending more time at home, viewing durations have increased. In fact Vizio found a 40% viewing session increase on their connected TV platform across ad-supported and ad-free apps from March 16th through 22nd compared to the previous week. The average OTT session was 34 minutes compared to 19 minutes for the average linear session.  Additionally, usage of ad-supported video-on-demand apps was up 19% in the second week of March, and there was a 9% bump in users on TV apps overall, according to Inscape.  


4. Increase in Ad Inventory

How consumers are watching content has a large impact on marketers and advertisers. As a result of the COVID-19 effect, SpotX saw its ad inventory for streaming TV programming rose nearly 25% from March 12 - 24, compared to February 28th through March 11. That is nearly twice the growth of digital video over the same time period. 


5. AVOD doesn’t only win, so does SVOD

Netflix reported almost 16 million new subscribers in its Q1 2020 report. With in-person events such as concerts, movies and other events cancelling, consumers around the world are stuck at home due to COVID-19 turning to subscription video on-demand services as a form of entertainment. 


6. Change in Marketing Messaging

In addition to the increase of ad inventory, advertisers are adjusting their messaging during this time. According to IAB, 42% of advertisers are focusing on mission-based marketing and 41% are focusing on cause-related marketing. Lastly, IAB found that more than a third of advertisers are adjusting their in-market tactics and increasing audience targeting (38%) and OTT/CTV device targeting (35%). 


We believe 2020 is the year of AVOD, and with an increase of content viewing while consumers  shelter-in-place, we believe many of the viewing habits made now will stick for the long-term.



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ZypMedia is the programmatic advanced TV platform for local media companies connecting advertisers with their local audiences across all screens.