So much for the Golden Age of media content. The latest installment of a weekly COVID-19 tracking study from Mindshare finds that nearly half (46%) of American consumers say they've already run out of media content to watch, read or listen to. That's up from 33% a couple of weeks ago, and 30% at the end of March.
The finding, which is based on self-reported responses to the question, may be a foreboding one, given that much of Hollywood's studio production system has also been on hiatus during the pandemic, and there could well be an even bigger paucity of content than normal, despite pent up demand for it.
The finding may help explain the phenomenal success of a show like Netflix's limited reality series "Tiger King," which in more content-rich times might not have gotten nearly the attention of sampling that it has during a pandemic.
It also belies a regular annual analysis from FX Networks showing that the supply of new scripted TV series has surpassed the number of hours people have to watch them.
Or it could just mean that Americans don't feel like they are running out of content of sufficient quality that they actually want to watch, read or listen to.
Meanwhile, Mindshare has also detected a corresponding finding that may seem paradoxical in light of the fact that many Americans say they're running out of media content: They are also actively limiting the time they spend with media to avoid reading, watching or hearing news about COVID-19.
Currently, 51% of Americans say they are limiting their time with media to avoid it, which is up 38% a couple of weeks ago, and 37% at the end of March.
"One of the trends we’ve seen over the course of a few weeks is news fatigue related to information about COVID-19, as just over half of consumers say that they’ve limited their time on media because they don’t want to read more news about it," explains Alexis Fragale, director of consumer insights at Mindshare USA, adding, "At the same time, people are also feeling like they’ve run out of content to read, watch, or listen to."
Fragale says both of these trends are being driven by Millennials (70% say they are avoiding media because of COVID-19 news).
"Aligned with this, when we look at what types of media people are consuming more of since the outbreak, this week in particular we’ve seen the biggest increases in non-streaming entertainment like listening to podcasts and the radio, playing video games, and shopping online," Fragale says, adding, "In addition, this week more consumers say that they’re buying hobby-related items like arts & craft supplies, books, and board games."