Report: Pandemic still major influence on content consumption

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Insider Intelligence, in collaboration with Publicis Media-Starcom and GWI, has published its annual Global Media Intelligence Report on key digital trends worldwide, designed for business executives who require comparable consumer usage data to support their decisions for global initiatives.

“When, where, and how people consume media continues to evolve, and this is no exception in 2021 as the global pandemic continues to alter our daily routines for a second year,” said Kelly Kokonas, EVP, Global Data Strategy, Publicis Media-Starcom.

This year’s report includes the following findings:

  • Ownership of PCs and/or tablets continues to fall in many countries. Smartphones are already the primary – and sometimes the only – digital device owned by many internet users around the world. As advanced handsets continue to consolidate that position, larger-screen devices may be destined for a secondary role.
  • Smart TVs are gaining ground as high-quality in-home entertainment becomes a must-have. In all but a handful of countries, smart TV ownership rose by several percentage points year over year.
  •  Adoption of other smart products has accelerated. In 2020, a small minority of internet users polled owned a smartwatch, but momentum was building. That trend continued this year, with penetration climbing significantly in most countries.
  • In many countries, digital video has overtaken broadcast TV. As in prior years, TV still reaches more consumers worldwide than any other content-based medium. Yet the share of internet users watching digital video now surpasses the share watching live TV in many parts of the world.
  • The digital audio market is evolving, but radio hasn’t gone away. Broadcast radio’s reach shrank in many markets this year, but time spent with radio hardly changed since 2020.

UK findings from the report:

  • Live broadcast: More than 86 per cent of UK internet users polled in H1 2021 had watched live TV in the prior month, spending an average 2 hours, 39 minutes (2:39) per day tuning into live TV – a slight YoY increase.
  • Pre-recordings: As last year, about two-thirds of UK respondents had viewed pre-recorded TV shows.
  • On demand: The share who watched programmes via TV channels’ catch-up or on-demand services like BBC iPlayer or All4 rose slightly, to 84.2 per cent. As in prior years, the UK registered one of the highest rates of catch-up TV viewing globally. This year, engagement with catch-up services was almost uniform across age brackets.
  • Streaming: The share of UK respondents viewing content via SVoD services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video took a sizable jump as well this year to 80.8 per cent. Younger people were still in the vanguard here; 94.2 per cent of internet users ages 16 to 24 had watched SVoD in the previous month. But – as in 2020 – penetration was up YoY in every demographic, including 55- to 64-year-olds. In that cohort, usage approached 61 per cent in H1 2021.
  • Digital viewing: Overall, takeup of numerous viewing options and services boosted VoD penetration to 92.5 per cent confirmation that digital video viewing is now substantially more common among internet users than live TV viewing.

Jason Mander, chief research officer at GWI, added: “We have been paying close attention to the impact the pandemic has had across the planet. For the second year in a row, we see the pandemic as a major influence on both media consumption and device ownership. Some countries have been affected more intensely or differently this year than last. Of course, many internet users had already experienced the types of restrictions imposed during the first phase of the health crisis in 2020, so we might have expected little change in their media behavior in 2021. That was true in some cases—but in others, a second year of the pandemic seems to have prompted significant shifts. For example, in many countries digital video has overtaken broadcast TV. Subscription video-on-demand products enjoyed a big boost in 2021, suggesting many internet users who resisted the appeal of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other providers last year finally gave in to temptation as the pandemic continued.”


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