Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
2 mins read

The generational impact of COVID-19 on media habits

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There’s no question that media consumption is up while most of the country shelters in place. Global Survey Index set out to discover where all this consumption is taking place, so they interviewed 4,000 internet users in the US and UK.

“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,” writes Katie Jones in Visual Capitalist.

Jones notes that 68% of consumers surveyed are going online to get updates on the pandemic. Yet there are some significant variations across generations. For example, Gen Zers are more likely to be listening to music than tuning in to the news … perhaps indicative of their strong preference for music in general, maybe combined with their general lack of trust in anything that smacks too much of corporate speak? Even so, Gen Z, GenX and Millennials all reported double-digital increases in time spent with online press.

Image source: Visual Capitalist

Overall, it’s the Millennials who are hitting the internet hardest for COVID-19 updates, and the most likely to be reading business and finance news. This chart gives an interesting glimpse into the increase of a range of online activities since the pandemic started:

Image source: Visual Capitalist

I find it interesting that Boomers are the most likely generation to say they are trying to stay offline more, even while their consumption of broadcast TV is way up.

Image source: Visual Capitalist

As far as trust goes, there’s generational agreement that direct sources like the World Health Organization’s website, government sites and news channels rank highest in trust … while we are all much less likely to trust news shared on social media or via word of mouth.

(Trust in magazines and newspapers is surprisingly low at the moment, which contradicts much of what we know about the trust bump of printed magazines. In this divisive climate of fake news and media bashing, perhaps that should be expected, but it’s certainly troubling to see.)

Image source: Visual Capitalist

Even so, 15% of Millennials say they would consider paying for subscriptions to new sources like The New York Times and the Washington Post, The Financial Times and The Guardian, even while they sign up in droves for the Disney Channel.

“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,” Jones writes.

I urge you to take a deep dive into these infographics; you might find some interesting new ideas on engaging with your audience where they are currently consuming. Will these habits become ingrained? It’s hard to know, but perhaps the longer this goes on the more likely that becomes.

David Pilcher
VP of Sales & Marketing, Freeport Press