The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a potentially long-term impact on the media industry in Germany. After the WHO declared a pandemic in March 2020, subsequent lockdowns took place in the country, some of which were lifted during the summer and then resumed in winter, extending into 2021. Closed establishments, travel and contact restrictions, and working from home for many members of the population led to increased media consumption precisely at home, be it for information or entertainment purposes. The restrictions affected both those consuming media and those producing media content. The media most used on a daily basis were TV, internet and radio.
A natural consequence for media consumption during the pandemic was that the coronavirus was a dominant topic the population wished to be informed about. In 2020, the first pandemic year, most consumers turned to the leading news media, while others also perused national government sources and information from global health organizations. German news websites also recorded more unique users during March 12-19, just days after the pandemic had been declared. Among TV news programs covering COVID-19 that year, Germans mainly relied on the Tagesschau, with viewer numbers being higher in the first weeks after the WHO announcement. The coronavirus pandemic turned out to be one of the main viewership and traffic drivers for audiovisual and online media in particular.
The book trade suffered significantly during the lockdowns of 2020, as bookshops were closed too along with other retailers deemed non-essential. In April 2020, retail sales plunged by almost 47 percent, with the following months recording losses as well. March 2021 saw a positive development, after bookshops across the country were allowed to reopen. Daily newspaper circulation continued to fall.
Movie theaters also remained closed for a long time, finally reopening only on the condition of following certain rules regarding the number of visitors, distancing and mask-wearing inside. These measures may have been a contributing factor to soaring drive-in movie theater revenue in Germany in 2020 compared to previous years. This type of movie theater outing may have provided more freedom from the consumer point of view. Overall movie theater revenue fell significantly in 2020.
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