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A Digest of American Media Consumption Habits in Q1 2022

As the nation recovers from the pandemic, we are now facing the fallout from two years of sporadic lockdowns and political upheaval, resulting in an embattled economy. Inflation has consumers pinching their pennies in order to combat the rising costs for everything from groceries to gasoline. In fact, 84.2% of Americans reported having to make cutbacks to cope as reflected in our monthly Inflation Tracker.

As trickle effects go, these factors will also continue to shape the way Americans interact with various forms of media. To keep abreast of this ongoing evolution, Attest has launched the first Quarterly US Media Consumption Tracker, surveying everything from social media, audio, television and streaming, and digital and print media habits.

The results from the Q1 2022 survey outline our relationship with these various mediums, highlighting how consumption habits are being potentially affected by various factors across private and public life. For us at Attest, the goal is to build up a reserve of historical research to help us better understand how our media consumption habits change over time.

Twitter achieves minimal user growth in midst of potential Elon Musk takeover

One of the biggest recent news stories in media land is Elon Musk’s impending (or not) takeover of Twitter. Despite the fanfare surrounding his plans to reform the platform, the survey showed very little growth in usage. When compared with Q.4 2021, Twitter saw just a 0.9 percentage point increase in weekly users by the end of Q.1 2022.

It also recorded a 0.5 percentage point increase in the number of people who say they ‘never’ use the platform. This brings half of working-age Americans (50%) into the category of non-users and shows the challenge Musk will have to make the platform attractive to the average American (if the takeover does indeed happen).

When it comes to other social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram saw a similar fate. Both platforms saw their non-user figures jump by 2.3 and 2.5 percentage points respectively. Snapchat fared even worse with a 3.3 percentage point increase, bringing the total number of non-users to a whopping 53.2% of Americans.

When it comes to the Q1 winner, TikTok is the only platform that saw a jump in usage. This might come as little surprise, since the short-form video platform has been on a steady winning streak over the past couple of years. Another notable victory is held by YouTube, which saw a 5 point percentage jump for active, daily users. For those still on the fence about incorporating some kind of video marketing scheme into their business, the research points to there not being a better time than now.

Americans love their music & podcasts, YouTube Music edges closer to overtaking Spotify

Whether you're on your morning commute to work or shopping at the grocery store, it’s not uncommon to see other Americans with headphones in, enjoying streamed music or catching up on a podcast. Overall, this love of listening shows signs of steady growth, with a 2 percentage point increase in people listening to streamed music daily and a 2.2 percentage point jump for podcasts.

The Q1 research points to a budding competition between two of the major audio streaming platforms - Spotify and YouTube Music. According to the findings, YouTube Music is coming close to overtaking the legacy platform Spotify for top spot, with a 1.7 percentage point increase in users in Q1. Upon the survey’s close, an impressive 34.8% are now tuning into YouTube Music - just a razor’s margin away from 38.7% of working-age Americans regularly using Spotify.

Other audio streaming platforms aren’t so lucky and trail quite far behind these two giants. Amazon Music, Apple Music, Google Play Music and SoundCloud all lost users according to the research, with Amazon Music seeing the sharpest decline, dropping 4 percentage points from Q4 to Q1 and only 18.4% of Americans using the platform on a regular basis.

Netflix still sees high usage, despite subscription losses

Another trending media story from the top of the year was Netflix’s bombshell announcement that it planned to raise its subscription price for the first time in two years. The ultra-popular streaming service justified the jump in price as a means to stay competitive, churn out more content, and crack down on the naughty habit of password sharing.

By April, Netflix reported hemorrhaging 600,000 subscribers in the US and Canada but the Q1 research points to an interesting phenomenon - the largest growth in regular users across all streaming services. We found a 2.8 percentage point increase in people watching the platform at least once a week, bringing the audience to an astonishing 71.2% of working-age Americans. While a rise in popularity speaks volumes to how much Americans value Netflix’s content, it also potentially reinforces the password sharing conundrum the platform faces.

When it comes to competitors, growth in usership was dismal at the beginning of this year.

Amazon Prime, one of Netflix’s closest competitors, dropped 5.2 percentage points (41.3%), HBO Max fell by 3.1 percentage points (26.4%), and Disney+ fell 2.2 percentage points (32.4%). For Netflix, this spells a massive challenge in balancing the population’s love for the service with making sure they protect their profitability and content pipeline.

Inflation doesn’t have Americans pumping the breaks on paid-for content subscriptions

When it comes to digital and print media, it might come as a surprise that paid-for content subscriptions didn’t take a massive plunge in Q1 due to rising inflation. The research only found a 0.9 percentage point drop in Americans reporting that they don’t have such a subscription, and overall digital content subscriptions remained steady at 14.3% of consumers holding one or more.

Of note, the wildly negative news agenda could be a factor as to why there was a 1.3 percentage point increase in Americans “never” using news websites and applications, with nearly a fifth (19.5%) of the population avoiding news content. This is further supported by the fact that usage of more traditionally entertaining mediums like television streaming, podcasts, and music streaming have remained a staple of consumers’ everyday lives in Q1.

As American society continues to undergo massive change and growth, the live US Media Consumption Tracker will provide an extensive mine of data for brands that want to understand how to capture different demographics, meet consumers where they are, and make big decisions about where to budget their ad dollars.
Written by Jeremy King - CEO & Founder of Attest

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