Streaming television nearly doubles in first weeks of coronavirus outbreak

Towards the end of March, Nielsen predicted that the coronavirus outbreak could cause streaming to rise as much as 60%. That prediction came as lockdowns were going into effect, but weren’t quite widespread yet. As “stay at home” orders spread across the nation though, numbers soared past 60% – nearly doubling.

For the first three weeks of March 2020, the total number of minutes of television streamed increased 85% over the same period in 2019. It’s worth noting though that number doesn’t include PC streaming or mobile device streaming (where many people watch their television these days), so the real numbers are likely much higher.

Netflix was the winner of the month, occupying 29% of all streaming for the week of March 16. YouTube was right behind at 20%, with Hulu and Amazon Prime behind them at 10% each. Not included in specific numbers though is Disney+, which is likely seeing a huge spike due to schools being closed across the nation.

When that projection was made, Nielsen said that “Considering that consumers around the globe are already leaning into the growing ray of content options, a 60% increase would be significant.”

When even the television experts underestimate Americans’ penchant for streaming, it’s clear that the past few weeks will have a lasting impact on the TV landscape.

Artie Beaty