How COVID-19 Has Impacted Media Consumption by Generation by@janstepnov

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Media Consumption by Generation

Jan Stepnov HackerNoon profile picture

Jan Stepnov

Digital Consulting. Identity Verification @Regula

Due to the frenzy of pandemic-included quarantines, it’s no surprise that media consumption has seen a massive increase. People’s time that would have otherwise been spent perusing malls or going to live events, is now being spent on the sofa.

But what exactly are people doing, and how are they staying informed? Global Web Index surveyed 4,000 internet users between the ages of 16-64 across the U.S. and the UK to find out how the COVID-19 outbreak has changed their media consumption, and how it differs across each generation.

More Time to Kill

Global Web Index found that over 80% of consumers in the U.S. and UK say they consume more content since the outbreak, with broadcast TV and online videos (YouTube, TikTok) being the primary mediums across all generations and genders.

Unsurprisingly, 68% of consumers are seeking out pandemic updates online over any other activity. GEN Zers however, have other plans, as they are the only generation more likely to be listening to music than searching for news.

  • Current quarantine internet activities

Overall, younger generations are more likely to entertain themselves by playing games on their mobile or computer. Millennials also stand out as the foodie generation, as they are the most likely to be searching for cooking recipes or reading up on healthy eating.

Media Consumption Changes

Over half of the GEN Z age group are consuming significantly more online video content than before the COVID-19 outbreak. MILLENNIALS have started consuming more content across several media types including online video, online TV and broadcast TV.


GEN X have increased their TV watching more than any generation but are also watching TV online. BABY BOOMERS appear to have changed their media consumption the least as a result of the outbreak, with an increase in watching broadcast TV most apparent.

Leaning on a Pillar of Trust

Across the board, consumers view the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most trusted source of information for any COVID-19 related updates.

This isn’t true everywhere on a regional basis, however. For example, while U.S. consumers trust WHO the most, UK consumers view their government as their most trusted news source overall.

  • Sources of trustworthy information

Trust in information shared on social media is higher than word of mouth from friends and family, and even foreign government websites. That said, it is lower than the information shared on the radio or news websites.

The Need for Pandemic Positivity

While staying abreast of pandemic updates is important, ultimately, a positive mindset and the ability to switch off will help people cope better day-to-day.

Therefore, it seems reasonable that people are more inclined to invest in new subscription services since they have been in isolation, with almost one-third of GEN Zers considering purchasing Netflix, followed by Disney+.

  • Subscription services

Keeping an Eye on Sports News

Sports events may be off the cards, but people are still looking to satisfy their sports entertainment needs. Between 60-70% of consumers in the UK and the U.S. say they’ve used at least one channel to get information on sports news. There is a notably higher interest in sports news than we would expect when compared to before the outbreak, likely due to the fact major sports events like the Olympics have been postponed.


TV news remains the go-to destination to catch up with sports news during the outbreak, but websites and social media updates from the sports organizations also prove popular, especially among millennials and Gen X.

Understandably, people are becoming increasingly worried about how much time they are dedicating to their screens. However, research suggests that screen time itself is no cause for concern. Rather, it’s the content we choose to consume that could have a significant impact on our psychological well-being.

Perhaps most intriguingly, the TV shows and movies that are increasing in popularity on Netflix are about pandemics — which could signify the need for people to fictionalize the chaos we find ourselves in.

Regardless of what type of content we are consuming, the fact is that every generation is relying on their devices during this pandemic to inform and distract more than ever before, creating a huge opportunity for media companies to engage a captive audience.


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