In a new study looking into media consumption behaviour before and during COVID-19, we see that the use of TikTok explodes while social media loses importance as a news source

Even though it is not really a time of ‘good’ news, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel for parts of the media industry. Online news sites and TV have consolidated their position as the main sources of news, while social media has dropped significantly.

In Sweden, Norway and Finland, more than half of the online population is now using online news sites as their main source of news, while one-third in the US and Denmark use TV as their primary news source. In comparison, less than 10% in all countries (except the US) prefer to stay updated on the latest news through social media.

This development, coupled with the fact that more people are paying for online news, means that parts of the industry should come out stronger on the other side of the crisis. Especially in Norway, the online news media have succeeded in converting their readers into subscribers. Today, no less than 44% of the Norwegian online population is paying for online news.

Big rise in streaming

Though TV has been consolidating its position as one of the main sources of news, we see a small decline in reported TV viewing overall. Or at least for traditional TV viewing. When looking at streaming, the trend is the exact opposite. Across all countries, streaming keeps rising, and in the US, three-quarters of the online population is now streaming every week. In comparison, just over half of the Americans are watching traditional TV weekly.

Use of TikTok explodes

Like with streaming, we also see a significant rise for online video services, including the social media newcomer TikTok, enjoying steep growth. In general, more people are watching online videos and especially the use of the (fairly) new video-sharing platform has exploded. In most countries, TikTok has more than doubled its number of users since the COVID-19 outbreak, and when looking at the young people between 15 and 25 years old, it is obvious how TikTok is no longer just used by a small group of first-movers. Today, around one-third of this key demographic are using TikTok in the US, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Audio trends continue during COVID-19

While broadcast radio keeps declining, the consumption of music streaming and especially podcasts keeps growing. In other words, we see a continuation of the audio trends from before the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, more people in the US are streaming music than listening to the radio, and in the US, Sweden and Norway, one-third of the online population are listening to podcasts.

Get further insights

In our study, you can learn more about media consumption behaviour before and during COVID-19 in the US, UK, Germany and Nordics. Enjoy!

The study is based on more than 21.000 individual survey respondents across seven countries; The US, the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Please note:

In this study, we are referring to the periods ‘Before COVID-19’ and ‘During COVID-19’. The period ‘Before COVID-19’ represents the period from September 11, 2019, to March 14, 2020, while the period ‘During COVID-19’ represents the period from March 15, 2020, to May 22, 2020.

This means that changes in media consumption behaviour are not necessarily directly caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Some changes in media consumption behaviour may be related to underlying trends, e.g. traditional TV viewing decreasing and podcast listening increasing.

Download the full study and get further insights now: