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CTV Stays Up as Traditional TV Returns to Normal Levels

Source: Nielsen (Image credit: Nielsen)

While all television usage climbed as people stayed home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, consumption of connected TV has remained elevated even as traditional TV viewing has returned to normal, according to an analysis by Nielsen.

For the week of May 4, viewers consumed 3.5 billion hours of connected TV, including smart TVs, internet connected devices and video game consoles. That’s down from a peek of 3.9 billion for the weeks of March 23 through April 6, but still well above the 2.7 billion hours consumed the week of March 2. 

CTV viewing has been rising for some time, but the pandemic accelerated its popularity. At its peak, CTV viewing was up 81% year over year.

“The rise in total media consumption during shelter-in-place restrictions was expected and has been well documented to date, but the persistent high levels of CTV use across smart TVs, internet-connected devices and game consoles suggests that life in the new normal includes a heavier dose of connected TV use than before the lockdowns,” Nielsen said in a blog post.

Nielsen said CTV is being watched by families. It found that the share of CTV viewing in living rooms has risen from 62.5% the week of March 2 to 64.1% the week of May 4. Viewing in the master bedroom is down from 17.7% to 15.6%. Viewing in other bedrooms, the basement and “other” were basically flat.

“The increase in viewing in the living room speaks to the growth of co-viewing as consumers choose to watch content together—especially during a global pandemic, which has likely provoked consumers to lean into their families and loved ones during the health crisis,” Nielsen said. “Preference of what content to watch together does vary by age, but growth in this behavior during this time remained consistent, no matter what people are watching.”

The percentage of co-viewing for SVOD the week of May 5 was 52%. That’s down from a peak of 55% the week of March 23 but up from 47% the week of March 2. 

Broadcast, cable and syndication showed similar patterns.

“With 49 of the U.S. states now re-open at least partially, the continued high CTV usage is a testament to consumers’ attraction to the variety of options available and the connectivity they have to it. So in this new normal, we see that connected TV and co-viewing are a big part of the new media consumption equation,” Nielsen said.

Jon Lafayette
Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.