The State of TV and Streaming Media in the Time of COVID-19

Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we’ve all had to live in “The New Normal.” We stay six feet apart, wear masks in the grocery store, and most of our commutes got a whole lot shorter. Coronavirus has changed nearly every aspect of our society, and the way we consume media is no different. The current state of the world has shifted media trends considerably, especially our consumption of television and streaming media. At The Automotive Advertising Agency, our team of media experts has been tracking the emerging trends closely, and have summarized some of our findings to keep our clients up to date on the most effective strategies available.

Traditional TV Viewership
With on-going social distancing, shelter-in-place orders, and remote working, people are home more, so they watch more TV. Seems obvious, right? Well, what’s really interesting about current TV viewership is the amount it has increased and the trends of what people are watching. TV and streaming viewership is at an all-time high, with average TV viewing levels up over 16 hours per week year over year. That’s not limited to certain dayparts either. All dayparts have seen growth – especially Daytime and Overnight. Since more people are home during the day, they have time to watch more Daytime TV, and since they no longer have to commute to work, they can stay up later and watch during the Overnight daypart. Investing in these dayparts is more valuable than ever, and may make capturing a new audience all the easier.

It’s not just the When that is changing, it’s the What. Unsurprisingly, cable news networks across the board have seen large spikes in viewership, particularly CNN and MSNBC. Local news networks have also seen big increases in viewers, as people are looking for local information about COVID-19 and the ongoing Black Lives Matter demonstrations. This means big numbers for Early Morning, Daytime, Early News, and Late News. What is surprising, is that ESPN is still a solid ratings choice. Even with very few live games airing, and most professional sports seasons canceled or delayed, sports enthusiasts are willing to watch reruns of old games. This means ESPN can still be a solid part of your media spend.

The Growth of OTT (Streaming)
Streaming MediaOver-the-Top, or OTT, is a streaming media service that bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television. The current percentage of households that stream TV is now estimated to be 84%. That is a massive audience and makes OTT one of the most widespread and effective media channels available. This is not constrained by age group, with viewers of all ages now enjoying streaming media. Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, streaming TV viewership is up by an impressive 37%. OTT is also a fraction of the cost of traditional television, and paired with the increase in viewership, it provides incredible value to almost any media strategy.

As you can tell, OTT is incredibly cost-effective, especially now, but what makes it such a good investment is how versatile and precise it is. OTT can be extremely targeted, with it even being possible to target by new and used auto intenders, type of vehicle, Zip Code, Age, Income Level, and more. This level of targeting is only possible on OTT, and allows you to zero in on your intended audience. The top streaming devices include Smart TVs, Roku, Amazon Fire, Video on Demand (Cable), and Chromecast. The best part is that OTT ads are non-skippable and placed in smaller advertising pods, ensuring your message is seen by a captive audience.

OTT and traditional TV viewers are not mutually exclusive either. 64% of the streaming audiences are cable subscribers, 24% are Cord Cutters, and 12% are Cord Nevers (predominantly the younger age group). This crossover means that investing in both traditional TV and OTT can be an effective media strategy.

Ask the Experts
If you’re looking for help streamlining your media budget, just ask the experts at The Automotive Advertising Agency. We want to be your trusted partner for all of your media planning and buying needs. We stay on top of the trends to ensure that your budget is always being used as efficiently as possible to provide maximum ROI. Stay ahead of the curve and drive customers to your door with The Automotive Advertising Agency. Give us a call at 512-610-7300, or contact us at for more information.

About the author

Michelle Camacho is the President of The Automotive Advertising Agency.