What Canadians are getting out of TV (and what they want)

Staying informed is important, according to a study by ThinkTV and Ipsos, but what Canadians really want is to relax and feel positive.

During the pandemic, Canadians 18 and older say they’re watching an average of 4.2 hours of television a day, according to the findings of the latest ThinkTV survey conducted by Ipsos in early May. One-third are watching five or more hours per day.

The study dives in to not only how much TV is being watched, but why it is being watched and what purpose it is serving for them.

Over half of TV time is spent alone, something people say they are doing more often than normal. They’re watching for entertainment (67%), to relax (57%) and to stay informed (55%).

Canadians are spending more time watching TV news during the pandemic, claims that are backed up by Canada’s Numeris results (audiences for the most popular prime time newscast, CTV Evening News, have averaged one to two million viewers per minute throughout the pandemic, and last week was the most-watched program each night it aired). Their trust in TV news has grown with 44% spending more time watching news and 19% saying they trust TV news more.

While TV is seen as the most trusted source of video advertising (63%) and brand recall (29% recall an advertisement that has impressed them), research from AdEase shows that many big-spending categories pulled back from TV during the pandemic even as more viewers were tuning in. QSRs, auto dealership groups and retailers saw some of the most drastic reductions (furniture retailer spend, for example, dropped by 75% in the first month). There has been a recent rebound in some of those categories, but none as high as pre-COVID levels. Retailers, CPG and pharmaceuticals, however, have stayed high in their ad spend.

Since the COVID-19 crisis, Canadians say they want TV advertising to make them feel hopeful and safe with 34% wanting it to make them feel good and improve their well-being. This falls in line with research from Corus which found that Canadians are trying to be mindful about how much negative or stressful news they consume.