BARB: Record TV viewing in April

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With the lockdown in place throughout April in the UK, it is no surprise that consolidated 7-day TV set viewing for the month was high. The average number of minutes viewed daily in April was over 3 and half hours per person, at 211 minutes according to BARB. This was the highest monthly level since January 2018 (213 minutes). April 2020 was the highest level of April viewing to BARB-reported channels seen since 2014 (218 minutes).

BARB also measures unidentified viewing and viewing to BARB-reported BVoD services on TV sets. Adding these to consolidated 7-day TV set viewing gives a total TV set usage figure for April of 306 minutes a day, or over five hours. This is the highest level of TV set usage that BARB has recorded since it began using the current definition of unidentified viewing in 2013.

This increase in TV set usage is for all age demographics. Every age group has seen viewing levels increase for each type of activity in April 2020 versus April 2019. The greatest increase in viewing to BARB-reported channels was among viewers aged 55-64. In April 2020, these viewers watched 71 minutes a day more on average than in April last year, an increase of 27 per cent. Viewers aged 45-54 also saw a similar level of growth, up 22 per cent from 202 minutes a day to 246 minutes.

Among younger groups, where unidentified viewing was already approaching the level of viewing to BARB-reported channels, this pattern has continued, although viewing to BARB-reported channels has also increased. Unidentified viewing on a TV set among 25-34s grew by almost 64 minutes a day on average, and unidentified viewing by viewers aged 16-24 also went up by almost an hour.

Looking at the changes in viewing by time of day, the biggest increase overall was from 12.00-14.59, when viewing was 42 per cent higher. However, elevated viewing levels are not only caused by people being at home at times when they would usually be at work or school – viewing in the evening and late at night is also higher. From 18.00-20.59 there was a 14 per cent increase in April 2020, and a 11 per cent increase between 21.00-23.59.

BARB’s SVOD Report is included within its Viewing Report, as SVoD services made it into a majority of UK households for the first time. The SVoD Report features findings on:

  • SVoD subscriptions overlap: Between Q4 2015 and Q4 2019, the number of homes with a subscription to at least one of Netflix, Amazon and Now TV has more than doubled. Of these SVoD-subscribing homes, just over 42 per cent now take more than one service, with Netflix and Amazon the most popular combination, increasing from 9 per cent of SVoD homes in Q4 2015 to almost one in three in Q4 2019.
  • Age profile of SVoD subscribers: In Q4 2014, younger age groups made up the highest proportion of SVoD users. A younger skew remains in Q4 2019, but there has been a larger proportional growth among older audiences, especially 55-74-year-olds.
  • Unidentified viewing by ethnic group: unidentified viewing (which includes all types of TV set use that BARB cannot measure, including SVoD use) has increased for every ethnic group compared with five years ago.
  • Unidentified viewing at 9pm: unidentified viewing is increasingly becoming a primetime activity; there were 110 days in 2019 when unidentified viewing as a whole was ahead of any single BARB-reported channel in the 9pm slot, almost double the 2018 figure.

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