A media year in the shadow of the coronavirus – new media report from DR, Denmark

Woman with a face mask holding a cellphone
Photo: Ricky John Molloy/norden.org
In last year’s report, there was no doubt that 2020 would be a different media year for Denmark. 2019 was a year of savings and conflicts, leading to restructuring and shutdowns of several media channels in 2020. And then the pandemic hit. In this annual report, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) looks back at the media year of 2020 and the impact the coronavirus had on the Danes’ media habits.
 | 12 March 2021

According to DR’s latest media development report, the Danes’ use of different media channels has not particularly changed since last year. However, the type of content they consume has changed drastically. Not unexpectedly, Danes’ news consumption increased in 2020. Dennis Christensen, head of DR Audience Research, says:

At a time when unfortunately some people cry fake news at any opportunity, I think it is worth taking a moment and be happy that we live in a country with such a well-functioning media ecosystem, where the population has great confidence in the media, which are thus able to reach everyone with useful and credible information from authorities that the Danes also trust.

Here are some of the highlights from the report:

Consumption of traditional TV increased during lockdown but did not reverse the curve

During lockdown in the beginning of 2020, the Danes’ daily media use of traditional TV increased by 13 minutes – an increase of 11 per cent. However, traditional TV is still losing ground to streaming services, which are gaining in popularity across all age groups.

Distribution of the Danes media use
Figure. Distribution of Danes' media use
Source: DR Media Development 2020

Historical audience ratings

On 11 March 2020, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen held the first corona press conference, which was broadcasted across TV channels and reached out to 1.9 million Danes.

Shortly thereafter, a new press conference was held. On 17 March, the Danes were informed that the nation’s bars, restaurants, hairdressers and shopping malls would close. This message was received by 2.8 million viewers.

Her Majesty, Queen Magrethe II, exceeded all ratings when she addressed the nation on 17 March. A staggering 3.3 million viewers followed the Queen’s admonishing words of public spirit and self-sacrifice.

News consumption grew during lockdown

Not only the press conferences made the Danes turn on their television – so did traditional news broadcasts. News consumption almost tripled for 15–24-year-olds compared with the same period last year.

DRTV also experienced an increased consumption of news broadcasts between 18:00 and 21:00 as well as on-demand.

The consumption of news sites and news apps also increased, due to greater interest in following the latest developments and statistics about the coronavirus. In March and April, DR’s live news website on the coronavirus had over 16 millions visits.

Ratings for selected news broadcasts
Figure: Ratings for selected news broadcasts
Source: DR Media Development 2020

Corona breaks the radio habit

During lockdown in the beginning of 2020, commercial radio channels experienced a drop of 14 per cent in coverage. This is attributed to the fact that Danes stayed at home instead of listening to the radio at the workplace or while commuting. The only radio channels that experienced an increase in coverage were the ones that had corona on the agenda.

Podcast – a popular media

Though podcast consumption experienced a drop of 11 per cent in coverage during the lockdown, the weekly consumption increased from 24 per cent in 2019 to 26 per cent in 2020.

This annual report elaborates on what Danes are listening to – society, news and true crime being among the favourite podcast genres.

Savings and conflicts led to several TV channels closing down

On 1 January 2020, DR closed three of its flow channels. As part of their savings plans, the channels DR3 and DR Ultra became completely digital, and DR K was merged with DR2.

In 2019, a conflict erupted between Discovery Network and YouSee, the largest TV provider in Denmark. When the partners could not succeed in reaching a new agreement, YouSee closed all Discovery Network channels in 2020. This meant that the audience rating for the Discovery Network channels was cut in half.

The closing and restructuring of TV channels has led to an increased audience rating for other TV channels. TV2 benefitted the most from this.

Proportion of viewers distributed on channel families
Figure. Proportion of viewers distributed on channel families
Source: DR Media Development 2020

Do you want to know more about the Danes’ media habits in 2020?

This news article only summarised a fraction of all the interesting content from DR’s annual media development report. Here is the content list:

  • Preface: The importance of the media
  • A media year in the shadow of the coronavirus
  • The battle for children's attention
  • Covid-19 items about the Danes' media use during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Picky streamer is looking for the perfect streaming match
  • The past media year
  • Favourite series on repeat
  • The private mass media
  • The breaking up of the talk radio market
  • TikTok has grown up
  • 20 years of media lines

cover of report

Cecilie Ravik

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