Goggle-eyed Brits’ screen time soars during lockdown


UK adults spent nearly half their waking day watching television and online streaming services at the height of lockdown, Ofcom has said.

The time goggle-eyed Britons spent on streaming services doubled during the pandemic, said the communications watchdog.

Twelve million adults signed up to new services, three million of whom had not subscribed before.

At the height of the coronavirus lockdown in April, people spent an average of six hours, 25 minutes a day – or nearly 45 hours a week – glued to their various screens, said Ofcom’s Media Nations 2020 report.

That was an increase of almost a third (31%) on the same month in 2019.

UK Adults spent two-fifths of their waking days watching TV during lockdown

Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, which launched on the first day of the UK’s lockdown, have clearly benefited from having a captive audience.

Some of their new customers are older viewers who have never tried streaming before.

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Millions of people signed up to streaming services as lockdown got underway

One third (32%) of 55-64-year-olds, and 15% of people aged over 65, used subscription streaming services in the early weeks of lockdown. That’s up from 25% and 12% before the crisis.

The trend was more pronounced among young adults, with 16-34-year-olds streaming for an average of two hours each day.

Disney+ attracted 16% of online adults by early July, surpassing NOW TV (10%) to become the third most-popular subscription streaming service behind Netflix (45%) and Amazon Prime Video (39%).

Among children aged 3-11, Disney+ was used in a third of homes (32%) by June, overtaking BBC iPlayer whose pull among this group fell from 26% to 22% during the spring.

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The public service broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, STV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – briefly enjoyed their highest combined monthly share of broadcast TV viewing in more than six years in March (59%).

Broadcasters’ video on-demand services have also seen some success in lockdown.

Dramas like Normal People and Killing Eve helped BBC iPlayer attract a record 570 million programme requests in May 2020 – 72% higher than May 2019.

Channel 4’s on-demand service, All 4, also generated 30% more views among 16-34-year-olds in the first two weeks of lockdown, and viewers spent 82% more time on ITV Hub.

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