Nielsen Product Chief Describes Pandemic As Unprecedented Media ‘Lab,’ Long-Term Impact Unclear

Characterizing the COVID-19 pandemic as a “lab scenario” for the media industry, the head of product strategy at Nielsen said there has never been such a concentrated period of consumer adoption of new and potentially disruptive media technologies like it before, and that it’s unclear how much of it will be sustainable and how much consumers will return to more “normal” patterns of behavior. While the unprecedented spikes in overall TV usage levels from Americans stuck at home are showing signs of flattening, Nielsen Senior Vice President-Product Strategy Brian Fuhrer told attendees at an Advertising Research Foundation virtual “Town Hall” Thursday that it nonetheless is too early to tell if media consumption is “starting back to normalcy. ”The most abundant example of the unprecedented change, he said, was the number of streaming minutes Americans are spending on their TV sets. advertisementadvertisementCiting recent Nielsen data, he said American TV households currently are spending 170 billion minutes streaming content on their television sets, which is up 143% from about 70 billion a year ago. Fuhrer said time spent streaming on TV was already ascendant prior to the pandemic, but that America’s shutdown accelerated it exponentially. “Before COVID, it was probably the biggest amount of change we’ve seen,” he explained, adding, “With COVID, in a lab scenario, we’re seeing a tremendous among of differences.

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