Research: Lockdown boosts family TV viewing

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Research conducted by Freeview shows that family TV time is back, with British broods now watching 18 hours of TV together every week – four hours more than before the lockdown. In fact, more than half (57 per cent) of Brits said watching TV as a family during lockdown had been a bonding experience, bringing them closer together.

For 45 per cent of the nation’s families, TV has helped them feel connected to the rest of the world, with one quarter (26 per cent) claiming that watching TV with their family helps them escape life’s anxieties. Nearly a fifth of people (19 per cent) have consolidated this connection through watching broadcast TV virtually with friends or family in other homes, such as Killing Eve.

Relationship and Behavioural Psychologist, Jo Hemmings, explains that experiences such as watching live TV creates a feeling of togetherness, allowing us to create a “shared social reality” through which we can bond with our immediate family, and the rest of the country.

When it comes to the programmes UK families have enjoyed watching together in lockdown, Britain’s Got Talent took the top spot with 31 per cent of the vote, followed by The Simpsons (27 per cent), Gogglebox (22 per cent) and the Great British Bake Off (19 per cent).

“Families can bond over their feelings towards characters, situations and plots and chat about them in the same way that they might talk about real life events and friends. Reality programmes are typical of the kind of shows that help create that bond as they have identifiable characters, create resonance and empathy and leave us wanting to find out what happens next.  We get emotionally attached to characters in TV series and we want to see them continue – or conversely gotten rid of – one of the reasons why voting apps, which create an interactive voting process for many reality TV series, have become so popular. It makes us feel as if we have some control over what happens,” said Hemmings.

Similarly, when asked what programming families are looking forward to watching again over summer and beyond, the Premier League received the most votes (34 per cent), pipping Great British Bake Off (25 per cent), Strictly Come Dancing (16 per cent) and David Attenborough’s upcoming series Life on Our Planet (13 per cent) to the post.

Although 13 per cent admit their family often has disagreements about what to watch on TV, 18 per cent say they’ve managed to find a good way to compromise on what to enjoy together; 38 per cent will browse together, 30 per cent allow the parents decide, while 23 per cent of families let the kids control the remote. One in ten (11 per cent) resort to a good old-fashioned family vote to help settle the debate.

Owen Jenkinson, Marketing Director at Freeview, commented “It is great to see how many families are coming together to watch TV, and that this time is seen by so many as a chance to bring the family unit closer together and help them escape from their day to day worries.”


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