Somewhat unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered how we consume content. Through voluntold lifestyle changes, such as remote working, quarantining, lockdowns, and the like, we’re now spending more time online than ever before, consuming significantly more digital content, and engaging in new media behaviours. 

But how, specifically, have habits changed?

Here’s a look at how COVID has changed our collective content consumption habits.


We’re spending more time online.

Predictably, since the onset of the pandemic, users have been spending more time online. 

According to a report from Statista, in January 2021, Canadians spent an average of one hour and 46 minutes each day using social media alone, and more than six hours per day using the internet in general. 

Statista data also indicates that, in 2021, the number of internet users in Canada surpassed 35.6 million, translating to approximately 91% of Canadians using the internet to consume a wide range of media, including entertainment, communication, and information.

This increase in time spent online is due to several factors. For instance, with a higher concentration of workers operating remotely, they have more time to consume content during the day. 

In addition, as many brick-and-mortar businesses have closed, consumers have not only been turning to the internet for entertainment, information, and even social interaction but also for their retail shopping needs.

In particular, increased demand for e-commerce and delivery services are leading the charge.

For example, users in Vancouver, Lower Mainland, can order anything from makeup to pet food to groceries online, all without leaving the house, a habit which has seen a substantial uptick in popularity since the pandemic started.


We’re consuming more digital content.

As users are admittingly spending more time online, these habits directly correlate to them inherently consuming more digital content. 

In fact, a study from the Content Marketing Institute found that people are now reading, watching, and listening to more online content than they were pre-pandemic.

This increase in digital content consumption comes down to a few core influencing factors.

First, there’s more digital content available now than ever before. With so many people working remotely, there’s been a massive surge in online content production, from blog posts and podcasts to webinars and e-books.

Additionally, from a business standpoint, many companies and small businesses have had no other option than to pivot their marketing and branding strategies to be primarily digital. This shift has seen a transition to relying heavily on social media content, blogs, sponsored content, and display advertising, in general, to remain relevant and engage with current customers while also attracting new ones.

Secondly, consumers are turning to digital content for entertainment and information more often than during pre-COVID times. 

With many traditional forms of entertainment off-limits during the pandemic – for example, movie theatres – users instead turned to the internet. Not to mention, with so much uncertainty in the world right now, there’s been a significant increase in consumers utilizing online news and research resources to stay informed about current events.

Finally, to put it simply, digital content is more accessible than ever before. Thanks to smartphones, tablets, and other devices, it’s never been easier to consume digital media and content from anywhere.

In other words, there’s no longer a need to be in front of a computer to read an article or watch a video; you can do it anytime, anywhere, even on the go.


We’re engaging in new media behaviors.

COVID’s globally-reaching influence has also had a significant impact on overall media creation and consumption behaviours, one of the most notable examples being live-streaming. 

Live-streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube have seen a considerable surge in popularity during the pandemic as a means for users to find new ways to connect and interact with others while also being entertained.

One could also argue that the COVID-19 pandemic reigned in a new era of streaming services as a whole. Now, users have more options than ever through the increased usage of on-demand platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Crave, and Disney+, allowing users to easily and effectively stream shows and movies instead of watching live TV.

In addition, COVID has led to a boom in audio content consumption. With so many people working from home, headphone usage and other audio devices are at an all-time high, often used to block out distractions and improve focus. 

Music streaming platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify have also seen record-high user numbers since the pandemic. As of the first quarter of 2022, Spotify alone had 182 million premium subscribers worldwide, an exponential increase from the 158 million in the corresponding quarter of 2021. 


How COVID has changed our content consumption habits

Ultimately, to claim the pandemic has changed the way we consume content would be a colossal understatement. 

From spending more time online, consuming more digital content, and engaging in new media behaviours, its influence has reached the furthest corners of the digital landscape. Not only has it changed user habits recreationally, but the professional ramifications of working remotely, its cost-effective nature, and increased productivity have changed the perspectives of traditional working habits for employers and employees forever. 

As the world returns to normal, it will be fascinating to see which changes stick around for the longrun. 

To that end, COVID has also caused a massive shift in advertising spending, with businesses moving more of their budget to digital channels to meet the increased demand for efficient and accessible products and services and customers’ desire to engage with digital content. 



It’s still too early to tell if these changes in our content consumption habits are permanent. However, it’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the way we consume content. 

While the world is slowly starting to return to ‘normal,’ some trends are more likely than others to stick around. The most notable is the professional necessity for brands and businesses to create a strong digital presence to remain relevant and enticing to current and potential customers. 

Glacier Media Digital is an industry leader in generating and curating digital content from social media to blogs to sponsored content, audio programmatic, Google products, and more. 

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that timing is everything. Contact Glacier Media Digital today to help your business reach the right users with the right message at precisely the right time. 


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