The Big Winner in a Pandemic? TV Advertisers! Who Knew?

I get it, you’re home and likely bored. Self-quarantining has that effect on people. What does the average, bored, under-inspired person do in times of crisis? Yup, you guessed it. People at watching more TV than ever right now. A whopping 60% more! ‘Tis true. According to a new report from Nielsen, media usage is expected to skyrocket as more and more Americans are forced to remain in their homes because of the coronavirus crisis. “Considering that consumers around the globe are already leaning into the growing array of content options and channels, a 60 percent increase is significant,” the report said.

It really can’t come as much of a surprise, given that we’re currently a nation of shut-ins, but this extends far beyond our borders. Nielsen also noted big jumps in viewing in other COVID-19 stricken countries as people are eager to hear about late-breaking updates, news and new info.

Little known fact? According to Nielsen, media consumption in the U.S. was already at historically high levels. In its recent total audience report, Nielsen said that Americans spend nearly 12 hours a day with media. Streaming subscriptions and TV connected devices are only adding to that spike in viewership.

But how does the habits of TV watchers during coronavirus pandemic compare to, say, other crisis situations? It’s par for the course. Nielsen looked at total TV usage during the major snowstorm of January 2016 and Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 and found that total TV usage increased significantly. During Harvey for instance, total TV use rose 56 percent from the preceding period and was 40 percent higher than the period following the storm.

Advertisers are jumping on the bandwagon (and bevy of new eyeballs)—and quickly shifting their marketing efforts. According to an article in AdAge, Ford is pulling all national ads promoting its vehicles. They’re quickly being replaced with new campaigns describing how Ford is responding to the coronavirus, including giving Ford Credit customers some payment relief. Talk about fast-turnaround! The spots went into production late last week once “Ford execs realized their normal marketing plans would no longer cut it as the coronavirus pandemic overtakes nearly every facet of American life,” mentions the article.

What are you watching? And, more importantly, are you more apt to pay attention to the ads you’re seeing? Enquiring minds want to know. Advertisers and media buyers are certainly watching you watching them with bated breath. Plus, as info-hungry consumers watch even more, they might be more apt to note certain savvy brand messages.

As they say, stay tuned!