Consumers are spending more time with media, but many of those hours are with channels that don't carry advertising. The shift in media consumption habits has implications for publishers as they seek
ways to monetize their content.
The number of hours people spend with ad-supported media fell to an all-time low last year as part of a longer-term trend, Media Daily News
, reported this week, citing estimates from PQ Media.
The forecast is surprising, considering that people spent more time at home consuming media, and phrases like "I finished Netflix" trended on social networks.
Average time spent
with media for U.S. consumers expanded by 2.9% to 73 hours a week last year as people avoided going out. However, the share of time with ad-supported media fell to less than 45%, a low point in data
going back almost 20 years. The decline is largely attributable to consumers spending more time with ad-free streaming video services, such as Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max.
The reduced exposure to ad-supported media is a strange paradox, considering how many publishers said they experienced significant growth in web traffic last year. Ad-free media must have seen a
bigger jump in time spent among consumers.
For publishers, the reduced time with ad-supported media could make their ad inventory more valuable to marketers. There should be a
premium for capturing a viewer's attention and driving a response, especially as demand for media recovers with the economy.
Consumers only have so many hours in the day to
spend with media, even if they are streaming Hulu while browsing People magazine and checking Snapchat on a mobile device at the same time. In that environment, any media owner that can
deliver those audiences to advertisers has a better chance of monetizing their content.