Global television viewing increased slightly in 2020 compared to the previous year, with daily viewing growth in most regions, although it was down in North America. Television viewers in over 90 countries around the world spent an average of 2 hours 54 minutes per day watching television, which is up 6 minutes on 2019. It even increased by 2 minutes among young adults, to an average of 1 hour 49 minutes a day.

That is according to Glance, the television and video market intelligence company, part of Médiamétrie.

Daily viewing time was above the global average in North and South America, and in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Only Asia and Oceania had lower viewing time than the global average.

The average viewing time fell by 8 minutes per day in North America and Oceania, while it grew by 15 minutes a day in Europe. Daily viewing also grew by 10 minutes in Latin America and by 4 minutes in Asia.

10 or 15 minutes either way may not sound like much, but it is indicative of whether television viewing is increasing or declining overall.

2020 was an unusual year as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, with increased interest in news coverage but restrictions in programme production and live sport.

Non-linear television viewing remained stable at an average of 17 minutes a day, ranging from 26 minutes in North America to 13 minutes in Europe.

“Viewers have been keen to watch TV live in 2020, notably following news and country leaders addresses,” said Frédéric Vaulpré of Glance Vice-President. “In most countries, the levels of daily viewing time have remained high even after restrictions linked to the pandemic were eased, especially among young adults.”

“After an extraordinary 2020 year in terms of TV consumption, 2021 will confirm if the changes occurred were mainly the results of exceptional circumstances or have created new ways to watch and interact with specific TV & video content.”

Television viewing in the United Kingdom averaged at about 3 hours 12 minutes per day in 2020, compared to 3 hours 3 minutes the previous year. That is viewing of programmes on a television either live or within seven days of transmission, as measured by BARB.

Television viewing in the United Kingdom 2015-2020. Source: BARB / informitv analysis.

While average daily viewing was up on the previous year, boosted by a big increase in March and April, overall it was still down on preceding years, down from an average of 3 hours 36 minutes in 2015.