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Ofcom data shows how we kept entertained in lockdown

Ofcom recently published the 2021 Media Nations Report which keeps track of our viewing and listening habits. This report makes for particularly interesting reading given it covers the period of lockdowns and shows an acceleration in the trend of getting our TV, film, audio and music from the internet.

This report shows that online content is very much embedded as a mainstream form of entertainment and for huge (particularly younger) parts of the population they consume their content almost exclusively online. Some of the stand out points from the research are:

  • ‘Broadcast’ (defined as linear TV, online catch up and recorded) still accounts for 61% of all viewing, but this segment is losing audience share gradually. Overall, we watch 5hr 47m of stuff per day, but nearly half us feel that SVoD services are their primary way of watching film and TV.
  • 51 billion YouTube videos were viewed by UK adults in Q1 2021, a 22% increase on 2019-20.
  • 31 million people in the UK have a video streaming subscription, an increase of 50%.
  • ‘BVoD’ (traditional broadcaster catch-up services) had a great year. iPlayer was the most popular online service for UK content and All4 had a 26% increase in views. ITV Hub lost 5%, but this was probably down to losing popular shows like Love Island and productions halting.
  • Podcasting plateaued with only a 1% rise to 15% of adults regularly listening to a podcast. Young people used Spotify as their primary source, while older listeners preferred BBC Sounds.
  • Radio listening via a DAB radio is still the most popular way to listen to audio services, though this is declining as mobile radio and smart speaker adoption rises.
  • Smart speaker penetration is now at 50%, but actual use is 42%. Listening to music streaming services has overtaken radio as the most popular use for a smart speaker.
  • Ad revenues are down, but the decreases felt by broadcasters is lower than elsewhere. Online advertising continues to grow.
  • Production budgets for public service broadcasters fell 18%, but Netflix increased production in the UK by 50%. However, the stats are muddled due to sport cancellations/postponements.

As ever this is a great report and an excellent snapshot into how we kept ourselves amused between state-mandated walks, varied quality baking and queues for the supermarket. Some of the data will undoubtedly be anomalous given the unique circumstances of 2020-2021, but the clear trend of IP first content consumption is now even more apparent.

With a new Broadcasting White Paper due later this year and active policy and regulatory discussions on the future of broadcast this is a welcome addition to the evidence base, and click here to see an excellent interactive version of the report from Ofcom.

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