Podcasts Are Hot, Bingeing Is Down, Per New Survey Of American Media Consumption


If 2020 was the year of binge watching, 2021 is all about social media and podcasts, according to newly released data from a comprehensive survey of media consumption in America. Nearly 93 percent of Americans spend some part of their day on social media, with YouTube and Facebook as the favorite platforms. Meanwhile, we spent less than half the time bingeing streaming media in five-hour sessions in 2021 than we did when we were cooped up during the pandemic quarantines last year.

This data comes courtesy of the third annual US Media Consumption Report, produced by consumer research platform Attest. The report, based on a nationally-representative sample of 2000 working-age consumers in the United States, points to big shifts in the media landscape with implications for content providers, platforms and advertisers.

Among the top-line findings:

·      Streaming media has overtaken live: The proportion of Americans who consume streaming media (82.8%) has surpassed those who watch live broadcasts (81%) for the first time in this poll. That is consistent with other findings showing a massive shift to streaming platforms for both audio and video content. Nearly one in five Americans reports watching no live TV in 2021, up from 14% last year.

·      Podcasts are surging. 55.9 percent of survey respondents reported listening to podcasts, up from 48.7 percent in 2020. That continues a sharp upward trend and indicates that at least some of the big financial transactions taking place in the podcasting space over the past few years are likely to pay off if content providers can monetize their audiences.

·      Despite new competition, Netflix

and Amazon

are still America’s favorite streamers.
Netflix continues to dominate the streaming video scene with 69.4 percent of those surveyed having an active subscription. 52 percent have Amazon Prime Video, which comes included with the Amazon Prime subscription, and nearly 37 percent now have Disney Plus. HBO Max, which the Attest survey categorized as “video on demand” as opposed to streaming, clocked in at 31.4 percent. Households with at least one child under age 18 in the house have higher rates of streaming subscriptions across the board.

·      We watch YouTube a lot, but check Facebook regularly. Of the 92.6 percent of Americans who engage with some social media, 32.5 percent of us are on it three or more hours per day. YouTube is the favorite platform (87% use it at least once a month, compared to nearly 82% for Facebook). However, more consumers check their Facebook daily (54.1%) compared to YouTube (45.3%).

·      Checking in, checking out. In 2020, with the pandemic raging and the Presidential election in full cry, over 46 percent of Americans reported engaging with the news. That has now collapsed to just under 32 percent in 2021, with pluralities of audiences across all demographics preferring comedy, drama and crime programs to the events of the day and talking heads.

Some of these developments have been a long time coming, others represent significant departures from long-term trends. Notably, older Americans are nearly as likely as Gen Z and Millennials to engage with social media, disconnect from old sources of news and information, and shift from live to streaming services for their viewing.

This data is also a wakeup call to advertisers trying to reach consumers through new channels, where advertising inventory is less available (such as on SVOD services like Netflix and Disney Plus) and where audience metrics are closely held. Traditional media placement on broadcast and live channels is likely to yield diminishing returns moving forward, while marketers will need to get creative about getting in front of media consumers who prefer content delivered to them how and when they want it.


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