The British Government ordered the UK to go into lockdown on March 23 and, after a month of self-isolation at home, a new study has revealed dramatic changes to TV viewing habits.

News consumption, for example, more than doubled (up by 124%) in the first three weeks of lockdown, while there is clear evidence of families now watching more TV together, with comedy and nostalgic shows proving increasingly popular.

These are some of the key findings in a new report from Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, which commissioned research firm Ipsos MORI to analyse video diaries kept by 12 households during the first three weeks of the new restrictions.

The study, entitled Lockdown TV, is an ongoing series of updates into how TV habits in the UK are continuing to evolve in lockdown; and excerpts from the video diaries can be watched on YouTube about these new routines and attitudes to the news.

One important finding is that forced self-isolation appears to be bringing families back together, with shared TV-viewing growing by 37% year-on-year since lockdown began, compared to an increase of just 15% among those who watch TV alone.

This in turn is creating new household TV habits, such as families tuning in to important news broadcasts, or teenagers reconnecting with their parents around classic comedies like Friends or shows like ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

One of the video diaries describes how a father watched cookery shows with his young children before going to the kitchen to make what they’ve just seen, while another reveals how a home-working couple try to eat their lunch together in front of the TV at the same time each day.

And in these unsettling times, the research found that viewing of comedy shows increased 40% year-on-year in the three weeks since March 23. For example, viewing of the BBC’s classic Only Fools and Horses on Gold grew 20% year on year.

Nostalgic shows are also growing popularity, such as Last of the Summer Wine on Drama, which saw a 30% year-on-year increase in viewing figures.

“Our media habits are dramatically changing as a result of the new situations we find ourselves in and it is vital we understand what those changes mean for the TV and advertising industries. This ongoing study will do this,” said Matt Hill, research and planning director at Thinkbox.

“What is clear already is that TV has many roles to play. The huge breadth of broadcaster content – live and on demand – is coming to the fore, with people exploring all corners of the TV universe to keep them and their families entertained.”

Sourced from Thinkbox; additional content by WARC staff