U.S. Adults Added Hour Of Digital Media Consumption In 2020, Video Up 27 Minutes

Amid the pandemic, U.S. adults’ average daily digital media consumption rose by an hour across all devices — including 27 more minutes spent watching video, according to the latest time-spent forecast from eMarketer Insider Intelligence. 

The overall increase versus 2019 brought 2020’s total average time per day consuming digital media to 7 hours, 50 minutes (7:50) — up 15% from 2019’s 6:49. 

That was the largest increase seen since 2012. It also exceeded eMarketer’s own projection, during pre-pandemic Q1 2020, of consumption reaching 7:31 by year’s end. 

Digital time accounted for 57.5% of U.S. adults’ daily media time on average in 2020, and eMarketer projects that figure will reach 60.2% by 2022. 

Digital time-spent is on track to surpass eight hours for the first time by the end of 2022, the researcher reports. 

Average digital video time rose by nearly a half-hour, from 1:46 per day in 2019 to 2:13 last year. 

Within that, Netflix’s average time rose from 26 to 31 minutes, YouTube’s rose from 25 to 27 minutes, Hulu’s from 13 to 17 minutes, and Amazon Prime Video’s from 7 to 9 minutes.

Newcomer Disney+ grabbed 6 minutes of daily time, on average. (Chart above.) 

Social media time also jumped — from 0:56 to 1:05. 

And while Facebook and Instagram continued to dominate social share, and each saw time-spent rise by 1 minute last year, controversial TikTok saw the greatest gain: up 5 minutes, from 2 to 7 minutes per day. 

Digital audio time-spent by 7 minutes, from 1:22 to 1:29 — although Pandora lost a minute, and Spotify was flat. (YouTube data wasn't included in the summary.)


Time spent with almost all digital devices experienced an uptick in 2020, said Zach Goldner, eMarketer forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence. 

“Connected TVs and video game consoles are the main beneficiaries of the cord-cutting trend, due to increases in the number of subscription OTT and ad-free video-on-demand users and content offerings,” he reported.  

Although “normalcy” is expected to gradually return during 2021, overall digital consumption will hold all of 2020’s gains, Goldner added. “Desktop/laptop time will return to negative growth this year, but smartphone time will more than make up the difference.” 

Smartphones are driving a significant portion of adults’ total digital time. Smartphone time exceeded 3 hours for the first time in 2020 (3:13), up from 2:45 in 2019.  

Looking ahead, growth in digital time will continue, albeit at much smaller rates, says eMarketer. 

The researcher forecasts that U.S. adults’ daily digital time will gain another 7 minutes in 2021, to reach 7:57, and reach 8:02 by the end of 2022. 

eMarketer’s time-spent estimates include all time spent with a given medium, regardless of multitasking (e.g., one hour of multitasking on desktops/laptops while watching TV is counted as one hour for TV and one hour for desktops/laptops).

Next story loading loading..