The onset of the pandemic caused digital media consumption to spike across a multitude of platforms. Thanks to everything from recording TikTok videos to playing interactive games, the average time spent per day on mobile devices jumped 13.8% in 2020—growth that will stall this year and beyond. Digital media usage is expected to grow only 2.1% in 2022, to 8 hours, 11 minutes a day.

Which time-spent categories are the big winners in 2022?

Social video

More internet users are watching video on social platforms other than video content leader YouTube. In 2021, 49% of internet users who had ever watched video content online said they watched video on Instagram in the past seven days, up from 39% in 2019, according to Hub Research data collected in December 2021. There were similarly large increases for Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, and Twitch. By the same measure, YouTube experienced just a 3% point bump. 

TikTok’s impact on the social video landscape can’t be overstated. But it is about more than the length of its videos, which are short, long, or something in between. Its disruptive force—the TikTok Effect—is that it blends user-generated and creator-generated videos into a scrolling, never-ending feed that is entertaining and all-but-impossible to turn away from.

Connected TV

Connected TV’s (CTV) popularity will continue in coming years as people substitute TV with digital video alternatives. CTV devices will account for half (50.7%) of digital video consumption time among US adults by 2023.

About two-thirds of the US population are CTV users, and its growing popularity is driving a competitive markets for both subscriptions and devices such as Roku and Google Chromecast. In 2020, US adults spent an additional 18 minutes per day watching video on CTV devices, a 39.0% YoY increase amid a massive surge in streaming video service use. This trend has now stabilized, with average CTV video time growing 10.8% in 2021 and another 6.9% in 2022. 

Subscription OTT

Subscription OTT video services will retain all time-spent gains from 2020 and continue to increase through 2023. The average US adult spent 1 hour, 13 minutes with subscription OTT video in 2020, a massive 36.8% YoY increase that marked a milestone year. However, engagement with subscription OTT video services among users has mostly peaked.

Netflix will still account for the largest portion of time consumers spend with subscription OTT video services. But Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video and other subscription OTT video services will eat into Netflix’s share through 2023. Meanwhile, YouTube will account for 19.5% of digital video time spent—second in share only to Netflix.

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Mobile devices

US consumers’ average time spent on their phones will reach 4 hours, 31 minutes per day this year, a 2.5% increase YoY. As recently as 2018, the average US adult still spent more time per day with TV (3 hours, 42 minutes) than consuming media on mobile devices (3 hours, 27 minutes), a category that includes smartphones, feature phones, and tablets. But those positions switched in 2019 and have continued to diverge as mobile time surges and TV time falls. By 2023, the average US adult will spend a staggering 4 hours, 35 minutes per day consuming media on mobile devices and less than 3 hours (2 hours, 51 minutes) with TV.

US time spent with digital media outlook for 2021

According to Insider Intelligence projections, while overall time spent with media per day will decline slightly from 13 hours, 13 minutes in 2021 to 13 hours, 7 minutes in 2022, time spent with digital media—video, smartphones, CTV, subscription OTT, and digital audio—will maintain steady gains and continue claiming even more time going forward.

Comparatively, traditional TV time spent won’t rebound. Average time spent with TV among US adults will return to negative growth after increasing slightly in 2020 for the first time since 2012. TV time spent will continue to erode amid cord-cutting and viewer migration to OTT alternatives. By 2022, fewer than three-quarters of US adults will be traditional TV viewers, down from 90.6% in 2017. 

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