Across all devices, in-home data usage in the US experienced year-over-year growth during every month in 2020, with the highest growth seen at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, per recent data from Comscore.
Although in-home data usage grew by 16% year-over-year (y-o-y) in both January and February 2020, it wasn’t until the start of the pandemic, when Americans were forced to spend more time at home working, learning, communicating and entertaining themselves, that data usage in the home jumped. Indeed, April saw usage grow a full 36% y-o-y, while in May usage grew by 30% over the same month in 2019.
In-home usage of devices appears to have tapered off just as national lockdown orders were rescinded and more people left their homes to return to the office and school and, by December (1-27), y-o-y data usage growth was at 12%.
Some Devices Grew More Than Others
Smart Speaker adoption in US households has grown over the past few years, with earlier Comscore data showing that more than one-quarter (29%) of US households owned at least one of these devices by the end of 2019. Data usage by Smart Speakers, which many owners use in order to create a more convenient living experience, actually dropped by 4% y-o-y in February. However, in-home Smart Speaker data usage increased by 47% y-o-y in April, as more people, especially those ages 18-34, used them more to listen to music and news because of the pandemic.
That said, and bucking the trend of most devices that saw increased usage during only the early months of the outbreak, use of Smart Speakers skyrocketed in the final months of 2020, growing by 195% year-over-year in November and by 148% in December.
Another device type that bucked the trend and saw more y-o-y growth toward the end of the year were computers. PC/Mac data usage had declined in January (-3%) and February (-5%). While usage did pick up in April (+29% y-o-y), it wasn’t until the end of the year when usage growth was at its highest, with September seeing a peak y-o-y growth rate of 36%.
Smart TV usage also saw steady y-o-y growth of between 21-29% for most months. However, there were spikes in data increases in March (41%), April (49%), May (55%) and again in October (44%).
Although The NPD Group found the share of Americans who play video games has increased since 2019, in-home data usage for game consoles had its ups and downs. Its highest rate of growth was seen in November (19% y-o-y), but just one month earlier usage dropped 11% over October 2019.
More data on device usage can be found here.