Media Consumption in 2021: Will our 2020 Media Habits Stay?

By Amanda Galley

We’re in week # 53 of the national pandemic, but vaccine distribution is underway and we’re finally starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel! Once again we can dine at our favorite restaurant, hear live music from our favorite band, and feel the sun on our face at our favorite beach. Oh sweet freedom!  With all these new activities, we media folks are wondering – what we can expect in terms of media usage for the next year?

Let’s start with a quick recap of 2020 and the biggest changes in our media habits during the pandemic.  According to a 2020 survey by comScore, the top two activities in which participants reported activities they did more compared to a “usual” week were watch TV or movies (71%) and use their mobile devices (59%).  For anyone wondering about top non screen related activities; cooking and organizing.


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In the media world, connected TVs, smartphones, and social media received the largest increases in consumption. Time spent with OTT/streaming video increased substantially to 33.9% with huge increases in subscriptions. These changes in consumption drove changes in our media plans. Total US Media spending between 2019 and 2020 decreased by about $10B according to eMarketer, with decreases in traditional media spend driving the decrease. Digital media spend (which includes all media placed on devices connected to the internet, including CTV) increased $10B YOY (eMarketer, October 2020). Speaking for our Wahl Team, it was and continues to be a fast-paced period of change and expansion of our media intelligence, skills, and capabilities.

The forecast for 2021 is showing excellent growth in both ad spending and technology. We continue to uncover new ways to narrow targeting and localize ad distribution on media platforms. Ad spending is expected to grow for digital with small rebounds for traditional television and radio spending (eMarketer, October 2020). Media consumption is expected to hold on to gains for digital video, smartphones, connected TV, subscription OTT, and digital audio through 2021. Social media usage is expected to slow in 2021, remaining flat to 2020 numbers (eMarketer US Time Spent with Media 2021, February 2021). Hopefully we’ll be posting all of our vacation pics!

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