New Nielsen Report Shows How Wildly Popular Streaming Has Become During Quarantining

family guy characters watching tv

We're all going through some things right now. And, while some of us are dealing with situations that are more extreme than others, one thing that seems to be pretty true across the board is that everyone who's spending most of their time at home now is doing a lot of television watching. Specifically, we are streaming our asses off. I mean, sure, there are people who've used this time to finish knitting that blanket they started back in November or take up eight hour meditation marathons, but streaming is where it's at for most of us. Now, we know just how popular Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+ and other services have become.

If you can just pause your ninth re-watch of The Office, Gilmore Girls or (OK, fine) Contagion, then I can let you in on what all your friends and neighbors are doing with their increased, house-bound free time. New research from Nielsen notes that, while people being forced to stay put at home can usually lead to an almost 60% increase in streaming anyway, with official orders to stay indoors coming from local governments, there have been even more dramatic up ticks in streaming.

Nielson numbers show that states and cities that jumped on official stay at home orders the fastest saw the most dramatic increases in streaming from March 2 through March 23. For instance, New York City saw a 74% increase, Chicago had an 86% increase and Portland, Oregon saw an expansion of 95%. And, I don't doubt that, along with simply looking for entertainment as things got scary, people in these and other cities were also turning to as many comfort views as they could get their streaming sights set on.

So, when are we doing all this streaming? It turns out that, across the 56 largest markets that Nielsen records data in, streaming has gone up during every hour of the day. This, of course, makes a ton of sense, considering that kids are also home from school and adults, many of whom can't even work from home, now don't have to get to bed at any certain hour and will likely spend some extra time in the evening watching things on their devices.

But, the biggest gains have been in the early afternoon hours, when many people (adults and kids, alike) would have normally been occupied with work or school otherwise. Across Nielsen's markets, the hours of 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. had an over 50% jump in streaming during the same weeks of March mentioned above. On top of that, these afternoon hours are up more than a whopping 100% from the same weeks just last year. What a difference a year makes, right?

I am wondering why people have become such dedicated streamers during the afternoon hours, and can only think of one solid possibility. A lot of people are trying very hard to hang on to some semblance of a routine right now, so I can see them doing their standard morning activities and then making a solid attempt to stay away from TV during the first part of the day, when they would have been unable to watch anyway. But, after a long morning of trying to educate their children or entertain themselves, maybe they just give in to that desire to revisit what happened on Season 3, Episode 11 of The Wire.

Obviously, we hope you're all getting the vital information you need right now, as well as cooking yourself some good food and staying as healthy as possible. But, it's perfectly fine to have moments, hours or even days where you forget about the news (unless it's something really good and joy-inducing from John Krasinski) and serious life stuff and just enjoy what our many streaming services have to offer. After all, that's what they're for, right?

If you need more to watch, be sure to check out our 2020 Netflix premiere schedule, see what's new on Hulu this month, and look into the TV finales that'll be coming up, as well as seeing what will be new on TV this summer!

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Yennefer's apprentice, Gilmore Girl; will Vulcan nerve pinch pretty much anyone if prompted with cheese...Yes, even Jamie Fraser.