As millions of Americans sheltered in place and shifted to working from home and remote learning during the pandemic, ongoing research from Comscore found that overall in-home data usage levels throughout 2020 remained significantly higher than in 2019.
Throughout the first several of months of Covid-related lockdowns, data consumption from Comscore Connected Home custom reporting showed increased usage across all connected devices; smart TVs, laptops, gaming consoles, phones, smart speakers, streaming boxes & sticks and tablets all saw strong growth in data usage versus 2019.
By the summer, year-over-year growth rates across all devices seemed to level off to around 15 per cent on average, but smart TVs and home computers continued to see growth rates upwards of 30 per cent versus 2019. Despite some schools reopening for in-person learning and some adults returning to their offices, at least part time, home computer data usage continued to accelerate through the end of the year.
As 2020 came to an end, year-over-year growth in data consumption during Q4 2020 slowed slightly – in-home data consumption increased at roughly the same rates seen in the weeks leading up to Covid closures. Overall, total in-home data consumption in 2020 increased 18 per cent from the previous year.
Despite the cross-device year-over-year growth in data consumption, there was not much of a shift in how data consumption was allocated across devices in 2020 versus 2019. With the exception of a slight shift away from gaming consoles in favour of smart TVs in 2020, households continued to consume data in very similar ways to how they did in 2019.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers had adapted to a modified way of life. As lockdowns had eased, data consumption growth appears to have begun to slow in comparison to the peak months in early 2020.