While consumers spent more time with media in 2021, the growth rate decelerated from the previous year to 1.6%, for an average of 54.4 hours per week (HPW), according to a PQ Media report shared with Marketing Dive. In 2020, the boost was 3.1% — the fastest hike in 15 years. Key digital media growth drivers were mobile video, OTT streaming video services, audio streaming services and podcasts, digital books, digital OOH media and video games.
PQ Media's Global Consumer Media Usage Forecast 2021-2025 projects media consumption will grow at an accelerated rate of 2.5% in 2022, driven by original content releases, international sporting events and federal elections in several of the top 20 global media markets.
One of the byproducts of the pandemic is that the shift to digital media consumption has accelerated and increased 8.3% in 2021 to 18.15 HPW, after a double-digit increase in 2020. As a result, digital media's share of usage rose from 22% in 2015 to an estimated 33.4% globally in 2021.
The strong growth of global digital media usage is countered by a decline in traditional media consumption, which is expected to fall 1.4% in 2021 to 36.23 HPW, the fifth consecutive year of decline, per PQ Media. Some media channels currently growing at double-digit rates are likely to face deep deceleration in the years ahead, particularly video streaming services that are dealing with churn for the first time. PQ Media also does not believe movie theater admissions will ever reach pre-pandemic levels as the window for films being shown on streaming services continues to shrink.
While media consumption is nearing or has reached saturation, even years are expected to show growth while odd years will experience flat or declining usage. Growth going forward will be driven by digital as well as sporting events and elections. Foremost among the sporting events likely to spur growth this year are the FIFA World Cup, Winter Olympics and rugby's World Cup. In addition, the U.S. will feature a number of hotly contested federal elections.
One area of media consumption that has seen growth is user-created content, with consumers saying they're watching more of this content now than they did a few years ago, per a recent Consumer Technology Association report. Beyond looking for entertainment, some of the top reasons consumers seek out this content include learning how to do something, to consume content on niche topics and to watch content not on traditional TV.
By age group, the Great Generation (born before 1945) uses media the most, an average of 93.1 hours per week in 2021, according to PQ Media's report. M-Gens (born after 2013) are increasing usage the most, up 13.6% in 2021, as parents allow them to spend more time with video games, books and various digital media. Globally, I-Gens (born 1996 to 2012) are the first generation in which digital media usage exceeds traditional media consumption 51.4% to 48.6%, respectively.
PQ Media's report provides data, analysis and projections of consumer time spent with media for the 2015-2025 period, covering the top 20 global markets and the rest of the countries in each of the four major global regions; 45 digital media platforms & channels; 11 traditional media platforms; 11 hybrid (digital and traditional) media silos; and six consumer generations.