Media Nations Report 2020Gulistan Ladha
Ofcom published its third annual UK media nations report.
In April when the UK was in full lockdown, the average amount of time people spent watching audio-visual content increased to an estimated 6 hours 25 minutes per person per day, an hour and a half more than the average figure for 2019.
The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the importance of public service broadcasters as trusted providers of news and information. Demand for news programming helped them to achieve their highest combined monthly viewing share in more than 6 years in March 2020, when they captured 59% of broadcast TV viewing. BBC services were the most-used source of news and information about Covid-19, with 82% of people saying they used them for this purpose in the first week of lockdown, well ahead of social media and other sources. The Prime Minister’s broadcasts to the nation, on announcing lockdown in March, easing lockdown in May and the Queen’s address in April were the top three most viewed. BBC dramas such as Normal People helped BBC iPlayer attract a record 570 million programme requests in May 2020 which was 72% higher than last year.
During lockdown, Pay-TV operators provided, or opened up, additional services that were previously unavailable to all subscribers. A range of educational content, as well as entertainment and factual content channels were provided at no extra cost; sports package subscriptions were paused; flexible monthly packages were offered; and customers were able to receive hubs by post allowing installations without an engineer. The Premier League is a key asset for pay-TV operators in the UK and the resumption of football and other sports in June boosted multichannel broadcasters viewing.
An estimated 12 million online adults took up a new subscription video on demand service during lockdown, with around 3 million subscribing for the first time. Some of these new SVoD users were in older age groups who typically watch a lot more broadcast TV than younger people. 32% of 55-64-year-olds used SVoD services in the early lockdown period, up from 25% pre-lockdown, while 15% of over-64s used them (up from 12%).