It used to be said that watching too much TV would make your eyes go square. If that remains true, then the findings of an Ofcom survey will have Brits calling their opticians.
With the country spending 2020 in a series of rolling lockdowns, UK streaming subscriptions grew by 50% to 31 million during the pandemic.
More than half of UK households (52%) have taken out a Netflix subscription – meaning its customer base exceeds that of the traditional pay-TV providers combined for the very first time. Three in five UK homes now subscribe to a streaming service.
The continued growth of streaming services contributed to the more than 2,000 hours of time spent watching TV and video content in 2020. That works out at a daily average of five hours and 40 minutes – 47 minutes more than in 2019.1 – driven by the one hour and 5 minutes per day spent watching streamers.
Amazon Prime video’s catalogue is the largest at over 41,000 hours, followed by Netflix at around 38,000. The combined content catalogues of All 4, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and My5 were narrowly short of this at 37,000 hours.
Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s Group Director, Strategy and Research, said: “The pandemic undoubtedly turbo-charged viewing to streaming services, with three in five UK homes now signed up. 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.”
UK TV Viewing in 2020
The average time spent watching traditional broadcast TV each day in 2020 was 3 hours 12 minutes – nine minutes higher than in 2019. But this increase was entirely driven by people aged 45 and over.
Younger age groups continued to watch less broadcast TV in 2020; people aged 16-24, for example, only spent an hour and 17 minutes watching broadcast content – down from one hour and 21 minutes in 2019.