U.S. gamers and movie watchers are binging on entertainment during the pandemic, and game companies and streaming movie services are vying with each other to get consumers to sign up for their services, according to Deloitte‘s 14th annual Digital Media Trends report.
The data from the world’s biggest accounting and financial services firm is a clue as to new habits that are being formed during the pandemic as people stay in lockdown for a long time. Gaming has benefited from people being forced to stay at home, but the question is how long that extended interest in gaming is going to last.
“We saw a surge in esports in terms of virtual games and virtual sports during the pandemic,” said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. telecom, media and entertainment sector leader at Deloitte, in an interview with GamesBeat. “Do those become permanent parts of the entertainment package that people consume at home? Or is that really just a phenomenon of being locked at home and they had to find alternative entertainment? I expect that at least some portion of that will continue. We’re going to be watching very closely.”
Deloitte found in a survey of more than 2,000 people that 29% of consumers binge on games on a weekly basis, with the average session lasting 3.3 hours. But 38% of consumers said they binge-watch streaming video services, with the average binge-watching session lasting 4.2 hours.
But when Deloitte dug deeper into the data, it found that 52% of Gen Z consumers (born from 1997 to 2006) and 46% of millennials (born from 1983 to 1996) binged on games, compared to only 46% of Gen Z consumers and 45% of millennials binge-watching video. That suggests that while streaming video is dominant now, it won’t be when the demographics change in the future.
“A lot of this new generation is binge-watching content,” Westcott said. “And the social aspects of gaming have been increasing. People tell us they play games to connect with their friends and family.”
Earlier this year, 24% of consumers surveyed listed playing video games among their top three favorite entertainment activities. For Gen Z and Millennials, it was 44% and 37% respectively.
But since the crisis began in early March, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers have participated in some form of video gaming activity. For millennials, it is 69%, and for Gen Z, it is 75%. In fact, 29% of U.S. consumers said they are likely to use their free time to play a video game than watch a video.
Seven percent subscribed to a video gaming service for the first time during the pandemic. Among those participating in video gaming activities during the pandemic, 34% are playing video games at home with their families much more, and 27% are playing to socially connect with others.
Deloitte surveyed 2,103 people in January and it interviewed 1,101 more consumers again in May to get both pre-COVID-19 and post-pandemic sentiments.