2020 Recorded More Viewing Time, But Fewer Viewers

Pandemic-driven, at-home TV consumption went in two different directions in 2020, according to eMarketer: A dramatic rise in time spent with TV, but lower traditional average TV viewers.

The average number of traditional TV viewers -- thanks to rising cord-cutting during the COVID-19 pandemic -- declined 9% (20 million) to 204.2 million.

In addition, research found that U.S. daily time among TV-watching adults grew 9.2%, to 4 hours/31 minutes per day.

When looking at the entire U.S. population, the U.S. average time spent with TV grew 3.2% to 3 hours/34 minutes in 2020 -- up from 3 hours/27 minutes in 2019. This was the first increase since 2012.

Also, as expected, digital video continued to see rapid gains -- up 25.4% to 2 hours/13 minutes a day.

As a result, total time spent with TV and digital is now up to a record 5 hours/47 minutes.



TV data here includes all viewers 18 years and older watching live TV, time-shifted TV and other prerecorded video. It includes all time spent with TV, with or without multitasking on other media devices. Digital video includes all viewing -- desktop/laptops, smartphones, and any connected TV devices.

The increase in time spent with TV won’t last. eMarketer estimates it will drift downward -- to 3 hours/19 minutes this year and 3 hours/7 minutes in 2022.

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