Brits spent a third of 2020 watching TV and video – Ofcom

Broadcast TV lost further viewing share
Brits spent a third of 2020 watching TV and video – Ofcom

TV and online video have proved an important antidote to lockdown life, with Ofcom’s latest data indicating that adults in the UK spent a third of their time watching them in 2020.

According to Ofcom’s annual study of the nation’s media habits, Brits spent last year more than 2,000 hours watching TV and online video; a daily average of five hours and 40 minutes – 47 minutes more than in 2019.

The change was mainly driven by people spending almost twice as much time watching subscription streaming services (one hour and five minutes per day) such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

On the contrary, the average time spent watching traditional broadcast TV was slightly up – and this increase was entirely driven by people aged 45 and over.

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Streaming services is the king

Ofcom’s data show that UK subscriptions to streaming services climbed to 31 million last year, up from 20 million in 2019. This means that, by September 2020, three in every five UK homes were signed up, compared to half of homes a year earlier.

By April 2021, streaming service providers were offering UK viewers a combined total of over 115,000 hours of content. Amazon Prime video’s catalogue was the largest at over 41,000 hours, followed by Netflix at around 38,000. The combined content catalogues of All 4, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and My5 were narrowly short of this, at 37,000 hours.

The most-watched titles

Twenty-nine of the 30 most-watched titles on subscription services in the first quarter of 2021 were on Netflix. Four of these were UK-produced – Bridgerton, The Dig, Behind her Eyes and Fate: The Wynx Saga.

Bridgerton was a particular success, with 8.2 million homes watching it by the end of March 2021, making it Netflix’s biggest title that quarter.

Broadcast TV loses viewing share

On the other hand, Ofcom’s data indicate that broadcast TV is further losing viewing share. The average time spent watching traditional broadcast TV each day in 2020 was 3 hours 12 minutes – nine minutes higher than in 2019; an increase driven by people aged 45+.

Younger age groups continued to watch less broadcast TV in 2020. People aged 16 to 24, for example, only spent an hour and 17 minutes watching broadcast content – down four minutes from 2019.

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