Data: UK lockdown drives TV to mobile usage levels

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Consumer analytics company Viewers-Logic has released data revealing the extent of changing media consumption habits in the wake of the Coronavirus lockdown. Overall, the data shows that just before the lockdown, Britons were spending 45 per cent more time on mobile devices than watching TV, but that gap has now narrowed to only 28 per cent. TV viewing went up by 32 per cent, almost the double of mobile usage which increased only by 17 per cent. Despite the steep rise in TV audiences many companies are still planning to make major cuts to TV advertising budgets and just recently for instance, gambling firms have announced that they will pull all TV ads for the remainder of the lockdown.

Viewers-Logic single-source technology makes it possible to know in real time what individual consumers watch and how they engage with different media platforms. This offers an unprecedented insight into how our media viewing habits have changed since the start of the lockdown.

‘’The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed patterns of media consumption in the UK,” notes Ronny Golan, CEO. “Viewers-Logic is uniquely positioned to enable brands to navigate this period of change by showing them where their target customers are now and what they are doing. This enables brands to plan accurately and adjust their strategies quickly in these volatile time.’’

Even though TV programmes have recently gained massive audiences, the Advertising Association – Warc Expenditure Report – revealed that cuts in TV advertising budgets will be more severe than those for online advertising. Online display advertising expenditure will be cut by 31.8 per cent compared to 46.6 per cent for TV, but should clever marketeers rethink their strategies and invest in TV advertising? Experts suggest that now is a good time for some sectors to advertise on TV as they would reach bigger audiences at reduced prices and get better value now than they ever got, and possibly ever will. In some cases TV advertising costs have plummeted by as much as 50 per cent. Certainly, the data gathered by Viewers-Logic seems to confirm this view.

  • Men vs Women

– Looking at the data by gender offers some interesting insights and reveals even narrower gaps between TV and mobile usage. Presently, men are only spending 35 per cent more time on their devices than on watching TV compared to 16 per cent before the lockdown, perhaps suggesting that their focus has shifted more towards news consumption and entertainment.

– For women, the gap between mobile devices and TV has also narrowed although less markedly from 50 to 40 per cent, confirming findings from other studies showing that women on average spend more time on social networks than men.

  • Age differences

– Generational differences also reveal surprising results and the age group of up to 34 years old has registered significant differences between pre-lockdown when they spent 107 per cent more time on their mobile devices than watching TV. The lockdown seems to have created new audiences for TV within this age group and now the gap has narrowed down to only 81 per cent more time spent on their mobile devices.

– The figures for the over 34 years old also shifted upwards in favour of TV and whilst they 23 per cent spent more time on devices before the lockdown, they spend only 12 per cent more at present.

  • Lockdown fatigue & change in viewing habits

– The consumer thirst for news coverage has until recently been the main driver of this increase in TV consumption, consumers have clearly shown a hunger for the facts and certainty that the news gives them, in a time of great uncertainty. At its peak during the first few days of the lockdown we were spending 24 per cent of our TV viewing time on news programmes but this has now slowly decreased to around 18 per cent. Although this figure is still far higher than the pre-lockdown news programmes share of 11 per cent.

– As lockdown fatigue has set in we started to see a decline in news consumption and viewers seem to have moved away from the harsh reality presented by news bulletins and are increasingly shifting their attention to more escapist programming such as films and entertainment which have both registered a rise in audience share of around 5 and 3 per cent respectively. Interestingly, perhaps as a sign of the times our appetite for TV dramas also seem to have decreased by 3 per cent.

– Our dwindling appetite for news is further confirmed by Google search trends where the term ‘news’ peaked at the beginning of the lockdown but has now decreased by 67 per cent during the last two weeks alone.

– Viewing of sports programmes have plummeted from 12 per cent of our viewing time before the lockdown to less than 2 per cent, a worrying statistic for broadcasters for which advertising around sports events represent a considerable slice of their revenues and it is still uncertain how long sports will be suspended for.


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