Americans move from bingeing on TV to social media in 2021

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021 
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Americans move away from bingeing on TV in 2021 & spend most time on social media

  • Attest releases third annual US Media Consumption report polling 2,000 working-age Americans on their ever-evolving media habits

Attest, a consumer research platform, today releases its third annual US Media Consumption Report and the findings point to more seismic shifts in what American eyes and ears are tuning into in 2021.

For brands trying to navigate the second coming of the ‘Roaring 20s’, a digital ad spend boom, and a general fatigue for bad news, the report points to a significant decrease in our desire to sit in front of a TV screen for prolonged periods of time.

Attest US Media Consumption Report – 2021

The report delves into Americans’ habits across television, audio, news and social media, and its main findings are:

Social is America’s favorite media to engage with:

  • 92.6% of Americans spend some portion of their day on social media, making it the country’s most popular medium. This is followed by streaming TV services (82.8%) and music streaming (81.1%).

Decrease in bingeing of TV:

  • As the Great Reopening has gained pace this year, binge-watching of both live TV and streaming content has seen marked declines. While Netflix still dominates streaming (see below), the percentage of people engaging in five-hour+ bingeing sessions on streaming platforms is down from 25.9% in 2020 to just 12.4% in 2021.
  • More Americans also stopped watching live TV for more than six hours (8.7%) compared to last year (18.8%). Meanwhile, nearly one in five consumers (19%) say they now watch no live TV in 2021, versus 14% in 2020.

Streaming TV overtakes live:

  • For the first time since this report was launched in 2019, the proportion of Americans who watch streaming TV content (82.8%) has surpassed those who watch live TV (81%) on a daily basis.

Turning off the news & escaping reality:

  • The research highlights a collapse in consumers watching TV news, potentially caused by pandemic fatigue and the conclusion of the Presidential election, with just under a third of Americans (31.8%) regularly tuning into news content in 2021, compared to 46.3% in 2020.
  • This escape from reality is borne out by Americans saying comedy (51.1%), drama (49.8%) and crime (42.3%) programs are their favorite types of TV shows.

Breakdown of Americans’ Media Habits

Social media

Americans’ favorite social media platform is YouTube, with 87% using the platform at least once during the month, followed by Facebook (81.9%). However, consumers are more likely to use Facebook on a daily basis (54.1%) compared to YouTube (45.3%). Meanwhile, TikTok saw substantial growth from 2020’s report with just under half of Americans using the platform at least once over a month (48.3%). The vast majority of consumers also appear to have missed the Clubhouse craze with 82.9% saying they never use the platform.

Unsurprisingly, Gen Z (aged 18-25) used social media on a daily basis the most out of all those polled (at 96%), strikingly, however, the boomer generation (aged 55-66) came next (at 87%).


In tandem with a decline in bingeing on TV content, Americans are listening to more radio this year, with just 10.9% saying they never listen to the radio (compared to 20% in 2020). Additionally, for the first time since this report was launched, more than half of consumers say they listen to podcasts (55.9%), compared to 48.7% in 2020.


Netflix dominates in the streaming wars, with nearly one in seven Americans having a subscription (69.4%). This is followed by Amazon Prime which is used by over half (52%) and Disney Plus (36.9%) as the most popular streaming services amongst consumers.

News media (print and digital)

Over two-thirds (67.2%) of consumers say they do not have any paid-for content subscriptions for news media. Of the minority who do subscribe, somewhat surprisingly in 2021, digital subscriptions (19.5%) are only just ahead of print (18%).

Links: Attest