Since the beginning of 2020, our daily lives have changed drastically. As a product that reaches 100s of millions of users every month, we have a unique insight into how our collective internet video viewing habits have been transformed. That is why we produce these video engagement and consumption reports, giving our video-centric perspective on the changes in our lives on a category-by-category basis.
All the stats below are measuring percentage change as compared to an average of January and February 2020, the two months preceding COVID-19 initial impact on the locations where the majority of our impressions come from. We’ve also adjusted our measurement metrics, normalizing the changes from the extraordinary growth that Primis has experienced throughout the year, to better reflect real growth in video consumption.
How 2020 Changed the Way We Consume Video Online
We’ve seen consistent growth in video consumption across the Primis network as a whole since Covid-19 came into our lives. There was an immediate jump of almost 50% in March that slowed down over the following few months. However, consumption began to rise again in June and has not stopped since. We are even projecting a 75% increase to the consumption rate in December. The more interesting part of the story is how engagement rates behaved over 2020.
There is usually an inverse correlation between the two metrics; when consumption grows, engagement rates usually drop and vice versa. The logic being that there is more of a chance that someone watching one video will engage with it, than someone who watches five consecutive videos will engage with every one of them. That is not the case here.
When we see this double-pronged growth in a certain category, that is an indicator of the real growth of a sector. Seeing this happen across the Primis network as a whole means that people around the world not only increased their consumption of video content, but also engaged with it in a meaningful way.
So, while this year was challenging for everyone, certain digital publishers may see a silver lining. The trend of users spending more time online, and especially consuming video content, has increased. In 2021, we expect video consumption to keep on growing, especially with the adoption of 5G.
Key Takeaways by Category
The News vertical, unsurprisingly, showed one of the highest growth rates of video consumption. The category’s consumption rates grew by over 100% in March and April, and even the engagement rates rose. After leveling out in May and June, Black Lives Matter protests, the resurgence of the virus, and presidential elections brought about a second wave of consumption growth (peaking at 114% in July) and even stronger engagement growth (peaking at 70% in October).
It’s interesting to note that since the start of November there has been a steep decline in consumption and engagement rates. It seems that people might be fatigued by the news cycle in 2020 and choosing to step away.
Gaming as a category is a big winner in 2020. Gaming related videos saw almost unparalleled growth in consumption, peaking at almost 250% in July. While engagement rates naturally declined with the growth in consumption, throughout the year we’ve seen a constant recovery, reaching a 32% growth in Engagement in November.
November also has an almost 200% growth in consumption rates, showing just how strong the gaming sector has become. And the release of PlayStation 5 in November surely didn’t hurt
The Business category showed high consumption as well, reaching close to 100% growth both in March and June. The category showed no sign of slowing down until Q4. This may have been because of the volatile nature of the market throughout the pandemic, and President Trump constantly touting the stock market.
In the past few months, that has been less of a focus for the president, and we know Trump has a very strong impact on the news cycle.
Sports came to a standstill in March, beginning with the suspension of the NBA. Consumption and engagement rates began to recover in May with the return of professional basketball, baseball and eventually the NFL. It seems that sports is an ideal form of escapism, and is also a sector that found a way to exist alongside the pandemic.
The Food vertical also started with a jump in consumption, reaching over 50% growth rate in April. It makes sense considering people had to learn to make their own food in the lockdowns. After an evening out the numbers naturally rose towards the holiday season, maybe even more than regular years, as this year with smaller holiday gatherings, more households cook their own holiday meals.
The Home improvement sector has seen growth in both consumption and engagement rates. With people shifting to a life mainly at home, it makes sense that they want to improve their environment. It is noteworthy that the engagement rate growth is almost the highest, probably due to the nature of those types of videos. Users need to unmute and fullscreen these videos in order to follow the instructions properly.
The Hobby vertical grew a lot at the start of the lockdowns, reaching over 200% consumption growth in May. Since then, it has seen a consistent decrease. People may be tired of their new hobbies and may have gone back to binging TV shows. The engagement rates here also reflect the high engagement needed for learning new crafts and skills.
We didn’t include the visualizations of these other categories, but they also experienced a massive shift over the past 12 months. Both the Entertainment and Travel categories saw an extreme loss of consumption and engagement, but we expect them to recover confidently over the next year.