In a Christmas period like no other, Netgem, the end-to-end TV service for the UK’s growing ‘Altnets’ and challenger ISPs, reveals the busiest ever Christmas season on record, with a 27 per cent year-on-year increase in TV viewing compared to Christmas 2019. This is across Freeview live and on demand as well as additional services such as Prime Video, Rakuten TV, YouTube and premium channels such as Fox, MTV, Comedy Central and Premier Sports.
This brings the average number of hours viewed by households to 5.7 hours a day during the period with some days on Xmas week reaching over 6 hours a day, over 40 per cent of the ‘awake time’ of the household.
Which TV channels and streaming services performed the best?
Although average session times on popular streaming services like Amazon Prime Video saw healthy usage, especially among certain high demand points such as Premier League broadcasts, the promotion of big family titles like Mulan on Rakuten TV have maintained engagement on those services we saw most of the growth coming from ad funded content.
Ad-funded breaks down between the well known Freeview Play on demand programmes (known as Broadcaster VoD or BVoD) and ad-funded streaming services like YouTube, W4Free and recently introduced fresh Plex TV app for free movies and series from Warner Brothers, Crackle, Lionsgate, MGM and more.
For the traditional broadcasters, top shows like BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing final or Channel 4’s Bake Off specials topped the charts, but the biggest growth came from ITV Hub with hits over Xmas such as the Hey Tracey Christmas Special, Gary Barlow’s Night At The Museum and The Voice restarting on the first week of January. Even more so, from My5 (Fifty Shades trilogy over Xmas, and generally UK viewers realising the depth of content within My5 with content from PlutoTV, CBS Reality, popular US series from Paramount and some strong flagship shows well relayed in social media such as the Meghan and Harry: In their Own Words documentary).
YouTube and other AVoD players such as W4Free and Plex TV now represent almost half of the share of viewings across the ‘free TV’ category.
YouTube’s progress had already been observed since the beginning of 2020 (in fact since 2015 on EETV which Netgem developed and was the first Operator TV service offering Youtube). Most of the service growth comes from live streaming on the app especially around some categories such as eSports.