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U.S. demand for TV saw a significant drop as George Floyd protests began

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As protests spread across the United States in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, despite the coronavirus pandemic’s continued presence, national demand for television declined.

Total demand in the U.S. for all television series dropped nearly 18% during the period of May 15 to June 4, with a sharp drop occurring between May 31 and June 4—days after Floyd’s death on May 25—data research firm Parrot Analytics found. Total demand during May 15 to May 24, which the firm measured across all streaming and linear TV platforms using piracy consumption data, social media popularity, and other measures, remained relatively stable.

Parrot Analytics

“In the days following George Floyd’s killing, as protests against systemic racism and police brutality spread across the U.S., audiences’ attention was drawn away from their usual content consumption,” said Karina Dixon, director of global insights for Parrot Analytics. “Normally market level and global demand is relatively stable. A 17.8% drop in total US demand over a three-week period shows just how much this tragedy has captured the American public’s attention.”

In the same period from May 15 to June 4, the demand for TV worldwide saw a nearly 8% drop. Parrot attributes this trend to protests expanding across the globe—including in London, Seoul, Sydney, and dozens of other major international cities—as well as the opening up of more countries and states following strict coronavirus lockdown measures.

Parrot Analytics

Despite the decrease in demand for overall television content, certain shows addressing socially relevant topics saw a huge surge in interest as the protests were beginning. U.S. demand for Netflix series Dear White People and When They See Us grew 329% and 147%, respectively, during the week of May 27 to June 2, the firm found.

That interest is also reflected across other mediums as Americans grapple with issues on race and police brutality. The books How to Be an Antiracist, White Fragility, and So You Want to Talk About Race all remain in Amazon’s top 10 best sellers list after previously selling out of stock. In the podcast space, race-oriented podcasts 1619 by the New York Times and Code Switch by NPR rank in the top 10 most popular shows on Apple’s podcast app.

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