In the debate about which consumer media habits will stick post-lockdown, new data from Ofcom suggests the shift to SVOD is here to stay.

The UK regulator’s latest study of the nation’s media habits, Media Nations 2020, reported that an estimated 12 million people signed up to a new video streaming service during lockdown, with around 3 million subscribing to one of these services for the first time.

As a consequence, people spent twice as much time watching subscription streaming services in April 2020 as they did in 2019. At 71 minutes, however, this was still a long way behind the 227 minutes spent on broadcast TV, whether live (178 mins), recorded playback (37 mins) or BVOD (12 mins).

The UK’s public service broadcasters also registered some impressive viewing figures during this period, thanks to a demand for trusted news programmes as the pandemic grew. At one point in March the BBC, ITV, STV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 briefly achieved their highest combined monthly share of broadcast TV viewing in more than six years in March at 59%.

Taking other video-viewing options into account, during peak lockdown Brits spent an average of six hours and 25 minutes each day watching TV and online video content – a total of almost 45 hours a week, and a rise of almost a third on last year.

But as lockdown measures eased towards the end of June, Ofcom reports that the uplift in viewing to video streaming services and other non-broadcast content held steady, at 71% higher than the year before.

In contrast, by the end of June, traditional broadcast TV viewing declined from its peak in early lockdown – falling 44 minutes to 3 hours 2 minutes per day; broadcast TV viewing is now comparably lower than it was in 2014-2017, although it remains 11% higher than this time last year.

“Our adoption of streaming services appears likely to continue after lockdown,” Ofcom says. “The overwhelming majority of online adults signed up to Netflix (96%), Amazon Prime Video (91%) and Disney+ (84%) said they plan to keep their subscriptions in the months ahead.

“Similarly, more than half of people say they will continue to spend the same amount of time watching streamed content in future as they did during lockdown.”

Sourced from Ofcom