Study: Tectonic shifts in US media consumption

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Findings from the Future of Audience and Revenue Study from AI-driven audience engagement and sales intelligence solutions provider Futuri, with SmithGeiger, reveal tectonic shifts in how Americans perceive, consume and pay for media content, as well as media executives’ predictions for the sector and confidence in their ability to meet emerging challenges.

The study explored five key verticals: TV; social media; digital publishing; radio; and Esports, sports and betting. Key findings include:

  • America’s Insatiable Appetite For Content: Americans are voracious content consumers, with 41 per cent consuming 10+ hours of content a week, amassing an average monthly cost in streaming bills of $45 (€38.20).
  • Audiences Getting News Outside Of Traditional Channels: 47 per cent of Americans turn to Google every week for their news, flanked by Facebook (42 per cent), YouTube (33 per cent), Instagram and Twitter (both 28 per cent). National newspaper websites (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today) capture only 19 per cent of Americans.
  • Trust In Media At All-Time Lows: A majority of Americans do not trust major TV outlets. Of the organisations analysed (CBS, CNN, NBC, ABC, PBS, FOX, MSNBC and Newsmax), none were trusted by more than half the respondents, with credibility scores ranging from 30 – 47 per cent. This decreased for young Americans to 23 – 34 per cent.
  • Social Leads As A Source For Pandemic-Related News: Similarly, Americans are waning off mainstream TV for pandemic news. When analysing the same outlets (CBS, CNN, NBC, ABC, PBS, FOX, MSNBC and Newsmax) to gauge where Americans go for COVID-19 updates, the major outlets ranged from 31 – 52 per cent. In contrast, for pandemic news specifically Facebook grabs 64 per cent of Americans, YouTube (61 per cent) and other social platforms (TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram) reach 48 per cent.
  • Journalists Turning To Social: A large majority (88 per cent) of journalists and producers for local TV stations are using social media to source new stories and content for their readers.
  • Esports And Gaming Audiences, Good Targets For Sports Media: With sports betting legalised in more states, nearly two-thirds of Americans (61.5 per cent) plan to bet on regular season, playoff or championship sporting events.
  • Media Execs Nervous About The Future: 88 per cent of media executives agree attracting and retaining talent is a priority, but only 56 per cent feel confident in the industry’s ability to do it. Similarly, 85 per cent agree it’s important to attract younger audiences, but only 47 per cent feel confident in the industry’s ability to do so.
  • Broadcast Radio Remains Resilient:A majority (65 per cent) of HHI $100k+ Americans depend on radio for their pandemic news, demonstrating the medium’s importance for updates on COVID-19.

“This study reveals tectonic shifts in how media is being produced, perceived, consumed and purchased across all levels of society and media, from streaming to TV, social media, digital publishing, radio and more,” said Daniel Anstandig, CEO of Futuri Media. “The message is very clear to media executives: now is the time to accelerate innovation to keep pace with media’s evolution, or risk being left behind.”


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