Black Friday’s Effect On TV Viewing & Buying

Dr. Daniel Wegman - December 14th 2021

Hello my fellow data enthusiasts and welcome to the latest Wurl of Data blog. Today, I’m going to investigate FAST viewing habits during Black Friday. Why, you ask, would Black Friday be connected to FAST? To put it simply: long weekend → more people at home → more TV being watched. But it goes much deeper than that. What do people love to do during Thanksgiving weekend? Spend time with their family, of course. Just kidding, shopping! And TVs are top of the list for many. 

Black Friday: 2020 vs. 2021
Last year, Black Friday was certainly a unique event amid the pandemic. On top of that, there was also a chip shortage around the world. This year, the situation is arguably much better, given that lockdowns are not in place, and the chip shortage situation has improved. This blog will analyze TV sales during the holiday, year-over-year. By looking into new TV viewership, we can deduce if people actually went out and bought new TVs during this time. 

Data: Weekday vs. Weekend
Before looking at Thanksgiving weekend, we should start by looking at how the data behaves in general. For the sake of keeping the data confidential, we will normalize it. This means that we look for the highest possible value and divide all values by it. In Plot A, we see these normalized values for all new viewers since the beginning of the year and on all of our platforms. It’s clear that there are more new viewers during the weekend. That said, while looking at Thanksgiving weekend, we need to be careful not to confuse this behavior with buying behavior on a normal weekend. 

Wurl of Data Table 1

Plot A: Normalized New Viewers by day of the week (since 2021.01.01)

The Holiday Boost
So, what happens when we look at new viewers and total hours of viewing (HOV) over the last few months? We found exactly what we expected – we clearly see a boost in viewership and HOV over the holidays.

If we compare Thanksgiving Thursday to the Thursday prior, we see a 15% increase in viewership, and a 5% increase in HOV. When we look at Black Friday compared to the Friday prior, we see an 11% increase in new viewers and a similar 5% increase for HOV. When looking at the weekends, we saw a 7% increase in new viewers and a 3% increase in HOV week over week.

Wurl of Data Graph 2

Plot B: 2021 Normalized New Viewers and HOV

Black Friday 2020: An Anomaly?
As mentioned, we know that last year’s Black Friday was atypical, and the total sales were lower than any other year. This is likely because, due to COVID lockdowns, people were purchasing new TVs more regularly, so we didn’t see a spike during the holidays. Looking at plot C we don’t see any special spike for new viewers for Black Friday (Although what do we see is a huge spike during the presidential elections).

Wurl of Data Graph 3

Plot C: 2020 Normalized New Viewers and HOV

Black Friday 2021: Back On Track
By comparing our plots B and C, we can see the difference between  2020 and 2021. And that will let us check whether the new viewers, and therefore the buying behavior,  is actually associated with Black Friday sales. Here’s the main takeaway: people like to buy stuff on Black Friday and the days surrounding it. Because the holiday offers two federal holidays off work, this could potentially contribute to the spike in viewership. However, looking at the holiday in 2021 versus 2020, we can see that the spike in new viewership cannot only be explained by the long weekend, since this did not have the same effect in 2020. Therefore, it seems that a lot more people bought TVs (and other streaming devices) this year versus last. Life is going back to normal. (Fingers crossed.) And the numbers show it.

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