Media Consumption During COVID-19: J.P. Morgan Research Analysis

COVID-19 has shifted the way current college students view the field of mass communications. The pandemic has created a dramatic shift in the way we share and consume information. Traditional communications channels have been pushed aside. Digital communications now rule the media world.

In a recent study conducted by J.P. Morgan Research, Media Consumption in the Age of COVID-19, COVID-19 has impacted consumer behaviors when interacting with mass media. The study showed that digital media consumption is growing in terms of time spent viewing and interacting with online media channels. But this industry has not been insulated from the effects of downsizing and restructuring.

College students nearing graduation and staring into an uncertain job market are feeling some apprehension about their career prospects. Digital marketers have had to rise to the challenge as businesses are increasingly reliant on their skills.

Behavioral shifts are primarily due to social distancing measures. In-person press conferences, sports and media events are occurring with much less frequency. The Internet is the primary source of consuming information. J.P. Morgan Research compiled a report of the increase of activity on various social platforms.

Social Media Consumption:

When seeing each other face-to-face isn’t possible, consumers depend on the internet to stay connected with others. J.P. Morgan Research compiled a report of the increase of activity on various social platforms. Facebook’s Messenger feature doubled over the previous month. WhatsApp voice and video calls also increased by 50 percent. Other social channels saw similar results.

“In Italy, for example, time spent across its app suite was up 70% since the outbreak, and group calling increased by 1,000% during the last month.”

Twitter reported that their first quarter in 2020 reached 164 million daily active users, which is a 23% increase from their first quarter in 2019.

“The heightened news cycle tied to COVID-19 has significantly driven Twitter’s outsized number of daily active users beyond what we would typically expect for the first quarter,” says Doug Anmuth, Head of J.P. Morgan U.S. Internet Equity Research.

Respondents to a study conducted by CMO reports 97% of marketers noticed lower in-person marketing engagement. Social distancing has increased consumers’ openness to trying new digital devices and apps. The rise in social media engagement during COVID-19 has given a valuable advantage to digital advertisers to increase their ad circulation and revenue. The advertising industry is still facing repercussions of losing the majority of live sporting events, music concerts and other streams of valuable advertising opportunity.

Cable News Spikes:

When live sports are suspended and individuals are quarantined in their homes, broadcasting the news is what plenty of consumers turn to.

“Overall, we have seen a 10-20% growth in ratings for a majority of broadcast shows, which is atypical this time of year,” says Alexia Quadrani, Head of U.S. Media Equity Research. “Ratings usually drop once Daylight Savings Time arrives, since people prefer to spend time outdoors.”

Weekly cable news ratings from March 2, 2020 to April 6, 2020.

Like social media and digital advertising, these spikes in cable news ratings haven’t protected the industry from layoffs and downsizing. In August, NBCUniversal confirmed they will be making financial cuts to their workforce, which will affect less than 10% of their overall workforce. This comes after NBCUniversal reports a 25% decline to revenue in their second quarter of this year.

Video Game Engagement:

During social distancing, video games have become an escape for many consumers. This has led to massive spikes in video game sales. Verizon reported video game usage was up 75% across the U.S.

“Video game publisher Activision Blizzard recently released a new free-to-play mode Warzone for its Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and it already has more than 50 million players, making it one of the fastest-growing games in the industry,” J.P. Morgan Research reported.

Many companies have released their digital services for free, or offered extended trial periods, and are encouraging people to stay home and hopefully prevent further COVID-19 transmission.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports this year to be looking like the best year ever for video game makers. They reported a 30% increase in year-over-year change of U.S. video game consumer spending, with content making up $17.5 billion of that growth. Social isolation has increased consumers downtime making video games an easy outlet to indulge in.

Read the full J.P. Morgan Research Report for more information.