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Study: Americans plan to spend more time streaming

March 29, 2021

A study from US multiplay telco Verizon on how Americans have adapted to life one year into the pandemic, and what they think it will look like a year in the future, suggests permanent lifestyle changes in the workplace, a sustained larger appetite for streamed content, a comeback for phone calls, and a more equal mix of online and in-person shopping as the new norm. The study, Look Forward, was conducted with Morning Consult, combined with Verizon network data.

“The pandemic has forced all of us to face challenges we never considered,” says Kyle Malady, Chief Technical Officer at Verizon. “A year into the pandemic, data usage on Verizon networks remains at almost 31 per cent above pre-pandemic levels, a clear indicator that internet consumption and the acceleration of technology adoption are major by-products of this moment. We’ve seen the shift to digital jump ahead five to seven years.”


As companies shifted from in-office to work-from-home, many have invested significant resources into technology to ensure the continued operations of their business. Survey data suggests that many employees who have acclimatised to remote work are not in a rush to go back to an office full-time. In fact, half agree that they would consider changing jobs to continue remote or hybrid work.

  • Use of collaboration tools such as video conferencing on Verizon’s networks, is still a remarkable 2,872 per cent above pre-pandemic levels. Traffic across secure networks (VPN) also remains 91 per cent higher than pre-pandemic volumes.
  • Over half of employed adults say they are currently working remotely at least part of the time (54 per cent), nearly twice the share who say they were doing so before the pandemic began (28 per cent).
  • Among those who’ve worked at least partially remotely at some point in the last year, about seven in 10 say they would like to be working remotely at least one to two days per week a year from now (69 per cent). Just one in four hope to return to in person work full-time (25 per cent).
  • Remote workers largely say they tend to be more mobile when they’re working remotely (75 per cent). Two in three say they plan to take advantage of remote work to travel or work from places other than their home when the pandemic has subsided (67 per cent).

This shift in worker preference has one major implication: the reliability of networks is even more important today and going forward as workers are increasingly able to work from places other than home.


Today, traffic on major streaming sites is currently 21 per cent above pre-pandemic levels according to Verizon network data, supporting the finding that the nation has a larger appetite for streaming. Discussing TV and streaming content has helped adults connect with friends and family during the pandemic (44 per cent). Those who currently stream content largely anticipate that they will be spending more or the same amount of time that they are now watching content through streaming services a year from now (82 per cent).

  • Two in three US adults say that recently they have been spending at least three hours per week watching live TV (67 per cent). More than half (59 per cent) say the same about watching content through a streaming service.
  • Nearly half of adults (47 per cent) say they have subscribed to a new streaming service since the start of the pandemic. Most say they have binge watched shows at least once or twice (70 per cent).
  • While there is no final verdict on American’s preference to ‘binge watch’ versus watch episodic content, Gen Z prefers to binge (47 per cent).
  • Most US adult households currently subscribe to a cable or satellite television service (62 per cent). Nearly one in four say they’ve cut the cord (23 per cent). Among millennials, one in five say they have never subscribed to a cable or satellite television service (21 per cent).


Mobile gaming really took off during the pandemic. 46 per cent of respondents report that they have purchased or downloaded a mobile game at least once since the pandemic started; while 36 per cent report doing the same for a computer or console game.

  • Nearly a third of respondents said that they spend three or more hours a week playing games on their mobile devices (31 per cent)
  • About a third of adults who’ve spent time online gaming (32 per cent) and talking to friends or family via video calls (32 per cent) say they were spending more time doing these activities in the early months of the pandemic than they are now, while nearly half say they were spending about the same amount of time as they are now (45 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively).

Staying Connected

Newer technology may get the headlines about record data usage, but the old fashioned telephone call spiked during and after lockdowns. As the pandemic first took hold, Verizon network data showed phone calls increase by 20 per cent as people were connecting more over the phone than in person. That percentage has remained steady with current phone calls coming in at almost 19 per cent above pre-pandemic times. Today the duration of those calls also remains significantly higher, with people talking almost 29 per cent longer on calls.

Nearly one in three adults say they either upgraded or considered upgrading both their home internet bandwidth (32 per cent) and their mobile data plan (32 per cent) within the last year. Younger generations and those who are working remotely are more likely to say so compared to their counterparts.

Among adults who use messaging apps, video calls, and social media to communicate, nearly 1 in 3 anticipate they will be using each respective form of communication more a year from now than they are now.

The strongest increase in reported usage from before the pandemic to during the pandemic is observed for video calls (21 per cent to 26 per cent for friends; 25 per cent to 31 per cent for immediate family).


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