2020: A Year in the Internet

Press release
Click and Connect

We can’t talk about 2020 without first mentioning the health crisis that has turned our lives upside-down. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on our everyday lives and our media practices.This unprecedented situation has accelerated the digitalisation of our everyday lives and further intensified our internet use, whether it be to find information, for entertainment, for shopping or, of course, for communicating.

“Some online activities that arose or were reinforced during the lockdowns have stuck and seem to be gradually taking root in the lives of the French people”, comments Bertrand Krug, Director of the Internet Department. “ Internet use has increased, with people spending 15% more time online each day. Internet use has also diversified. Today over 1000 websites welcome over 1 million unique visitors each month alongside some already very powerful players.”

French people have also further intensified their internet use

By the end of 2020, almost 92% of all homes in France were connected to the internet.
This number tends to stabilise just like the number of Internet users, which currently is around 53 million individuals on average every month. Even though the digital divide is still a reality, with 10 million people not using the internet every month, French people have never spent as much time on the internet as they did in 2020: 2 hours and 25 minutes of surfing per person per day - 2/3 of which was spent on smartphones - which is 15% more than in 2019. This increase concerns all French people but has mainly been driven by young people aged between 15 and 24, whose daily surfing time has jumped by 24% and currently stands at 4 hours and 23 minutes a day. Having reorganised their schedules during the first lockdown, internet users also changed their surfing habits, connecting later in the morning and then in a more linear way throughout the day.

Everyday life has suddenly become more digital 

The French people had to reinvent their everyday life from one day to the next. They had to learn and work differently, do their shopping while following new regulations, keep in touch with their friends and family despite the long distances between them, and even relax and enjoy cultural activities without cinemas, theatres and museums. The internet has played a major role in this new way of life by allowing people to create a semblance of normality through their screens despite being in lockdown and isolated. For example, 80.5% of 15-24-year-olds connected to training/education websites and apps during the first lockdown and almost half of all SGP+ individuals used professional online messaging and videoconferencing services to work from home. In the catering sector, where restaurants have been forced to close, internet users have opted for food deliveries or drive-throughs instead, with the number of people using online services to order their food doubling between October 2019 and April 2020, going from 7 million unique visitors to 13.6 million in just 6 months. Concerned about their own health, and the health of their loved ones, many internet users also used various different online medical services either to make an appointment with a doctor (+26% of internet users in one year) or to have an online appointment with a healthcare professional. Finally, in terms of consumption, internet users made the most of their time in lockdown to shop online in a more meaningful and responsible way or to purchase more products that are Made in France.

Desire to stay informed more than ever before

In 2020, French people were hungry for news about the health crisis, but also on many other topics. While this need for information was particularly evident during the two lockdowns in France, including among young people, it also continued throughout the year. The number of people using news websites and applications increased massively (2 million more unique visitors each day than in 2019), with an average of 19.2 million daily visitors. While local news reassured internet users by keeping them informed about what was happening nearby, the number of people visiting fake news websites and apps doubled during the first lockdown. 

Staying close...

More than 8 out of 10 internet users in France used instant messaging services and social networks each month to communicate with their friends and family, especially when they were ‘cut off from the world’. Not surprisingly, young people were the most frequent users of these services. They spent three times as much time as the rest of France communicating with their friends and family in this way, 2 hours and 12 minutes vs 45 minutes each day. If the French use on average 2.7 social networks/messaging services each day (3.9 for 15-24-year-olds) it’s in order to meet different needs. From these figures, it’s clear to see that each service has its own place.

...and “deconnecting” online

French people frequently turned to audio or video content online in order to take their mind off everything going on and have some fun despite the situation. Each month, 36.2 million people in France used TV/radio websites and apps, 27.9 million people used SVoD* and 45.9 million people used AVoD** streaming platforms. The lockdowns also had an effect on online piracy, which increased by 5% between October 2019 and October 2020.

Finally, to relax many internet users also enjoyed video games, either by watching them and taking part on livestreaming platforms or by playing on new smartphone apps. In addition, over 12.8 million people played mobile games*** each day, a massive increase on previous years. Internet gamers spent almost twice as much time on this activity each day in 2020 (16 minutes).

Bertrand Krug concludes: “Médiamétrie has been detecting and deciphering the growing use of digital media in France for many years now. With the data that we collect, our clients, some of the major players in this market, have been able to grasp and understand emerging internet trends, as well as trends which have accentuated this year and which, who knows, may be here to stay.”


•* Aggregate: Netflix, Prime Video, Disney +
•** Aggregate YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo
•*** Mobile gaming apps

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