Video Trends During the Pandemic

TiVo recently published an infographic that discusses the drastic changes in video viewing habits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. TiVO looked at video viewing habits between March 27 and May 4 compared to the video viewing from the month before the pandemic. As might be expected, people forced to stay home are watching a lot more video content.

Homes are watching a lot more streaming services. In the period studied, TiVO reports that viewership hours watching Netflix were up 33%, Hulu was up 36%, Amazon Prime and HBO Go were up 80%.

One of the biggest jumps in content was kid’s programming that had grown by 27% by mid-April. That’s much larger than increases in other kinds of programming. As might be expected, sports viewership dropped 62%, It’s surprising the drop wasn’t more since live sports essentially disappeared by April, but the remaining sports viewers were watching reruns of classic sports events. It will be curious to see sports viewing for June.

TiVO offers its subscribers a big pile of free content they label as TiVO+. This content includes ads, and TiVo say viewing jump 41% after the pandemic. The company thinks this indicates that viewers are still willing to view ads to get content they haven’t seen before.

TiVO also recently published its 1Q 2020 Video Trends Report that looks deeper into a wide range of statistics concerning video. The end of the first quarter saw the start of the pandemic and TiVO reports a number of statistics that show big increases in video viewing.

The statistic that jumps out the most is that TiVO saw video viewership on the TiVO platform grow an amazing 58%, and that covered the wide range from live TV, streaming video services, and watching shows recorded to watch later. TiVO saw the average home increase viewing of news content by 2 hours per week.

One of the more interesting statistics is when people were watching video. Since the advent of streaming services, the heaviest viewing of content has been on weekends. During the pandemic, TiVO says that weekday viewing now mirrors historic weekend viewing, and weekend viewing has climbed to match historic levels of viewing only seen on holidays.

The TiVo quarterly report includes a result of a survey as well as covering how customers use the TiVO platform. The survey had some interesting results:

  • Over 82% of homes with a traditional cable TV service says that local content is important to them, compared to 62% of homes that only use streaming services. This shows that local content is likely to still be a big driver for homes keeping traditional TV.
  • The survey showed a climbing interest in free ad-supported streaming services such as Crackle, Tubi TV, and Pluto TV. 66% of survey respondents still pay for a traditional TV subscription, 36% watch the free ad-supported content, and 34% pay for a streaming service like Netflix.
  • Many survey respondents either like or aren’t bothered by advertising. 57% of traditional TV watchers don’t mind ads and 48% of homes with steaming services don’t mind ads,
  • Churn remains an issue for the industry. Over 21% of homes with traditional cable TV report dropping an online video service during the previous 6 months. 11% of homes that only watch streaming services dropped a service in the last 6 months.
  • The survey also asked about broadband use. 12% of survey respondents said they had cut or switched broadband service during the previous 6 months. 55% said broadband was becoming too expensive. 38% said their broadband provider didn’t provide a fast enough service they could afford. This is the first such report I’ve seen about broadband churn since it’s a topic that the big ISPs don’t talk about.
  • Survey respondents reported a lot of discontent about the ease of finding content to watch. 84% wished there was a way to browse content across all of the platforms they use. 77% expressed a willingness to buy all of their content from a single provider that could offer an integrated guide.

The bottom line is that video viewing has skyrocketed during the pandemic as people are stuck staying at home. It’s going to be really interesting to see what happens to video when the pandemic is over.