Concerns about COVID-19 and subsequent social-distancing measures could lead to a 60 percent increase in media consumption, according to Nielsen.
U.S. media consumption is already at an all-time high, Nielsen reports, with Americans spending just under 12 hours a day with media platforms, and 75 percent broadening their media options with streaming subscriptions and connected devices.
During Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, in 2017, Nielsen recorded a 56 percent increase in total TV usage. Meanwhile, during a January 2016 New York snowstorm, total TV usage was up 45 percent.
Nielsen also analyzed media consumption in South Korea in February of this year as that country began to come to grips with its COVID-19 outbreak, with a 17-percent surge in viewing. In Italy in the last week of February there was a 6.5 percent increase in TV viewing.
As employees across the U.S. implement work-from-home measures, Nielsen also sees an increase in viewing hours. Employees that work remotely during a typical Monday through Friday work schedule connect over three hours more each week with traditional TV than non-remote workers, at 25 hours and 2 minutes.
“As COVID-19 continues to spread, this serious health threat has already shaken world markets and, no doubt, will affect the media ecosystem,” Nielsen says. “Understanding and potentially hedging ad and media investments could help buoy any shrinking margins, build awareness for public health messages and maybe even get consumers’ worried minds off a threat through the power of entertainment.”