Survey: Record year for UK TV market

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The Digital TV Group (DTG), the centre for UK digital TV, has published the full findings of its national TV trends survey in the annual State of the Nation report, which indicate a record-breaking year for sales and subscriptions.

From sales figures and subscription trends to accessibility and sustainability drivers for the future, the DTG says this set of business-critical insights considers the key trends in the TV eco-system and the consumer pain points that need addressing.

In a year of not going out, TV became our link to the outside world, our primary source for entertainment… and a household battleground!

Increased pressure for time on the home’s biggest screen has meant viewers splashed out – spending significantly more last year on new TVs, additional sets and audio equipment to optimise viewing experiences (and keep family members at peace!).

In fact, spending hit £5.6 billion (€6.5bn) in 2020, and sales of TV sets alone grew 19 per cent, the highest annual growth in a generation and more than 4.2 million 4K TVs and more than a million soundbars sold in 2020.

Content too has seen a sales surge, with more than £12 billion spent on pay-TV and SVoD subscriptions.

With an increase in time spent in front of the TV and an increase in platform subscriptions, it is clear from the findings that a simpler or better UI, particularly when toggling between linear viewing and apps, was top of the consumer wish list.

And it is not just the viewing experience that is important to the consumer, sustainability credentials were high on the list of priorities, while, crucially, almost half of respondents would be willing to pay a premium for greener streaming.

“This is our second annual State of the Nation survey, and what a year it was,” remarked DTG Chief Executive Richard Lindsay-Davies. “With the TV becoming even more of a home hub during lockdown, we included the consumer viewpoint to identify the areas of real opportunity for our members and for our sector. The full report is packed with insights into the daily lives of our customers and, importantly, the direction, or directions, consumer spend might be headed.”

At a glance: sales and subscriptions

In a year of not going out, virtual socialising and online education, it’s not surprising that the TV became more of a focus for UK consumers.

  • 79 per cent of UK consumers used at least one SVoD service; And three quarters have used at least one broadcaster VoD (BVoD) service.
  • Total UK TV sales up 17 per cent YoY – the biggest increase in a generation.
  • Record annual 4K UHD sales in 2020 (4.2 million) and more than 1 million soundbars sold

At a glance: viewer behaviour

Despite the continued increase in IP and OTT viewing 71 per cent say the TV is their most-used screen to watch streamed content… Rising to 86 per cent for broadcast TV.

  • 69 per cent said the ability to easily switch between favourite TV channels and streaming apps is important.
  • 36 per cent struggle to hear audio or dialogue at least some of the time… And 40 per cent have used subtitles when watching television.
  • Though audibility may not be the only driver as twice as many 16-35 year olds than over 55s said they had used subtitles.
  • More than 80 per cent of over 70s find their TV easy to use… Though 55-75 year olds only spend 12 per cent of their viewing time watching SVoD services

At a glance: greener screens

So, consumers are demanding enhanced experiences but also need simplicity and cut through and the opportunities from greener streaming and sustainable options may be surprising for some.

  • 37 per cent were aware that streaming in a higher resolution typically uses more energy; And 45 per cent of video streamers said they would pay a little extra for ‘green streaming’ alternatives
  • This represents an opportunity worth more than £400 million a year for the sector.

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