ARD/ZDF Online Media Study 2021: key takeaways.

The annual ARD/ZDF Online Study has reached its 25th edition. When it launched in 1997, little more than 4 million people were online, 6,5% of the adult population. Now, it is 100% of those under 50. The ARD/ZDF is one of the most comprehensive studies to capture the media consumption evolution of the country. The key takeaways, here.




OF THE 14+


OF THE 14+

Germany 2021: 67 million people are online.

In Germany, almost 67 million people use the internet in 2021:

  • 100% of those under 50,
  • 95% of the group between 50 and 69
  • 77% of those aged 70 and over.
94% of the population use the internet. In 2021, all people under 50 are online.
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Source: 2021 ARD/ZDF Online StudyExecutive summary (PDF)

Media consumption online.

Internet is more than media: services, like google maps and shopping, messaging and emails are important reasons to be online. However, media consumption (video, audio, text content) has grown in the last years and propelled especially by the pandemic into new heights.

  • In 2021, the total population aged 14 and over in Germany uses media on the internet for an average of 136 minutes per day (plus 16 minutes vs 2020).
  • Video, including YouTube, media libraries and streaming services, will account for 64 minutes, slightly more than an hour.
  • Audio (streaming services, live radio, podcasts and so on) accounts for slightly less than an hour (56 minutes, up 5 minutes).
Young age groups use the media internet significantly longer.

Source: 2021 ARD/ZDF Online StudyExecutive summary (PDF)

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Online videos reach more and more people.

The daily reach increases to 36 per cent. The middle age group, in particular, is driving this development:

  • among 14- to 29-year-olds, 70% watch videos on the internet on a normal day,
  • among 30- to 49-year-olds it is 50% (+13% points vs 2020).

The ARD/ZDF study confirms the result of other studies: while the consumption of TV content on streaming services (AVOD, SVOD) and media libraries (like the ARD and ZDF) grew, watching videos and live streaming via social media is slightly declining.

  • Netflix remains the most popular video streaming service, with 32% of people using it at least once a week.
  • Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ are in second and third place with 18 and 8 per cent respectively.
  • The media libraries of ARD and ZDF are used by 21 per cent of people at least once a week.

For a deep dive into the usage of free media libraries (ARD/ZDF), streaming commercial services (AVOD, SVOD) and Youtube, read the second post of this serie:

  • ARD/ZDF Online Media Study 2021: focus on online video.

Audio means music, but also podcasts.

Radio, music or podcasts are listened to regularly via the internet by two-thirds of the population, i.e. at least once a week. Streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon Music or Apple Music are well established with 37% regular use. Music use via YouTube also plays an important role with 32%. Podcasts or radio programmes on-demand with new best values this year.

Social media and messenger.

Facebook is still the most-used social media application in 2021. However, Instagram is growing faster and reaches 26% of daily or weekly use (+6 percentage points). Instagram has overtaken Facebook in 2021 as of daily usage, coming in at 18 per cent, with Facebook in second place at only 15 per cent.

For under-30s, Snapchat and TikTok currently are as important as Instagram with 55 per cent daily use, at 28 and 19 per cent respectively.

WhatsApp is the most-used messenger service: 70% of Germans aged 14+ use it daily. Telegram and Signal follow at a great distance.


The ARD/ZDF Online Study 2021 was conducted on behalf of the ARD/ZDF Research Commission. The results for online consumption are part of a general study on Mass Communication Trends 2021. 1,502 representatively selected German-speaking persons aged 14 and over were interviewed by telephone between 9 March and 24 April in 2021 (Note: still under Lockdown).

All the takeaways from the ARD/ZDF Online Media Study 2021 published here:

  1. ARD/ZDF Online Media Study 2021: key takeaways.
  2. ARD/ZDF Online Media Study 2021: paid streaming and video libraries.
  3. ARD/ZDF Online Media Study 2021: radio, music, voice.

The ARD/ZDF Study here: presentation, key data, featured articles.

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