UK Streaming Viewing Doubled In 2020; Netflix Subs Now Top All Pay-TV Providers Combined – Ofcom

New research published by UK regulator Ofcom has evidenced how the pandemic impacted viewing habits, with the leading streaming services further increasing their market share as the public were forced to say indoors.

The average person was sat glued to the box (or laptop) for five hours and 40 minutes per day in 2020, 47 minutes more than the previous year. The majority of that growth was accounted for by streamers, with people spending twice as much time watching online platforms (one hour and five minutes per day) and overall subs climbing 50% to 31 million.

In total, three in every five UK homes are now signed up to a streamer, according to the Ofcom figures.

Netflix in particular saw stellar growth in front of lockdown eyeballs. More than half of UK households now have a Netflix sub, which means its customer base (52%) exceeds all pay-TV providers combined for the first time (48%).

Revenues across the main streaming services was estimated to be £2.11BN during 2020, a 28% increase and more than double the 2017 figure.

Moving into this year, the report said 29 of the 30 most-watched titles on subscription services in Q1, 2021, were on Netflix. Period drama Bridgerton beamed into 8.2 million homes by the end of March, making it the platform’s most watched content for the quarter, according to the stats.

Broadcast TV still accounts for 3 hours and 12 minutes of those five hours and 40, but the traditional channels continue to lose pace. They experienced a lockdown-related boom of nine minutes additional average viewing across 2019, but this was driven entirely by people aged 45 and over. The age group 16-24 on the other hand watched four minutes less broadcast TV on average than in 2019 (one hour and 17 minutes).

Broadcast TV’s total share of adults’ viewing was 61%, down from 67% last year.

Live events are stemming that trend, however, with England’s heart-breaking (for English viewers) loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final the most watched program of the year to date with more than 22 million viewers across BBC One and ITV. With Amazon already having trialed showing the Premier League during the 2020/21 season, will we see the online giants further enter the sports field this year?

“The pandemic undoubtedly turbo-charged viewing to streaming services, with three in five UK homes now signed up,” said Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s Group Director, Strategy and Research. “But with subscriber growth slowing into 2021 and lockdown restrictions easing, the challenge for the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Disney will be to ensure a healthy pipeline of content and keep customers signed up.”

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