Adults Spent More Time in Front of Screens in 2020 Than Ever

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As technology continues to progress and with an increasing number of streaming services and media outlets available, it doesn’t come as a shock that 2020 was the year American adults spent 7 hours, 50 minutes consuming digital media. That’s up 15% compared to 2019, making the jump from 6 hours 49 minutes. The increase between years is the biggest since 2012, and surpasses the Q1 2020 projection of 7 hours 31 minutes.

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

Time spent streaming digital video in 2020 was 2 hours 13 minutes, up from 1 hour 46 minutes in 2019.

Video isn’t the only thing that saw an increase in 2020. Last year, audio consumption from Spotify and Pandora increased from 1 hour 22 minutes to 1:29.

Additionally, social media consumption was at an all-time high with time spent on smartphones playing a huge role. Smartphone time surpassed 3 hours for the first time in 2020 (3:13), up from 2:45 in 2019.

And while the pandemic may have fueled some of this escalated digital consumption, the increase isn’t going back down in the months ahead. In fact, it’s only going to keep rising. Digital time accounted for 57.5% of adults’ daily media time in 2020, and that figure will reach 60.2% by 2022.

“As normalcy returns in 2021, overall digital consumption will hold all of last year’s gains,” Goldner said. “Desktop/laptop time will return to negative growth this year, but smartphone time will more than make up the difference.”

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