Americans are watching so much TV during the coronavirus shutdowns that weekdays are often indistinguishable from weekends. That, at least, is the takeaway from viewership numbers released this week by Comcast, gleaned from across the cable giant's customer base.
The company said that since early March, TV viewership has jumped a full eight hours a week per household, from 57 hours per week to 66 hours. In addition, overall streaming and web video consumption has jumped by 35 percent.
In addition, customers are watching a lot later at night, and much less early in the morning, indicating either that working from home is leading people to stay up later, or perhaps that customers home all day with the people they live with are using late night opportunities to watch the shows no one else in the household does.
Also, not so surprisingly, the consumption of news has surged 64 percent.
"Normally, we see noticeable distinctions between weekend and weekday viewing behaviors," the company said, adding that customers usually watch more on-demand than DVR'd content on weekends. However, since the start of the pandemic, Comcast says, there's been less of a distinction.
"As a matter of fact, in the past two weeks," the company said, "Monday has become a more popular day to watch television than Saturday."
In terms of genre, dramas are the most popular genre among Comcast customers, at 30 percent, followed by news (29 percent), comedy (28 percent), reality shows and action-adventure (15 percent each.) Sports, for obvious reasons, are not represented.
Comcast's numbers are in line with what has been frequently reported over the course of the coronavirus shutdowns, that TV, streaming, and other consumption of entertainment is way up. And while Comcast and other service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Dish Network have announced big declines in cable subscriptions in the quarter that incorporated the shutdowns, both Comcast and Verizon said they've seen increases in Internet sign-ups. Comcast lost 409,000 video subscribers but gained 477,000 in high-speed Internet customers.
"Society is being challenged like never before in our lifetime, and I couldn’t be prouder of our company, our employees, and our leadership team across Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, and Sky," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in the earnings announcement.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons.