Lockdown TV viewing data shows laughter really is the best medicine

Brits are turning to comedy to beat the COVID-19 blues. It has become the second-most watched TV genre, behind drama, new media consumption data shows.

Brits are turning to comedy to beat the COVID-19 blues. It has become the second-most watched TV genre, behind drama, new data shows.

Comedy viewing has increased by 26% since last year, according to Attest’s annual media consumption report. Nearly 55% of people are tuning into comedy during the lockdown (compared with 43% in 2019).

The figures also show a significant increase in people watching the news (from 34% to 54%), which could be fuelling the desire for light relief.

UK Media Consumption Report 2020 Programme Type

Binge-watching is at an all-time high 

TV viewing, in general, has seen a huge boost since coronavirus restrictions confined Brits to their homes. Binge-watching of on-demand TV content has leapt by a whopping 71%, with nearly 30% of people watching five or more hours per day (versus just over 17% in 2019.) 

Younger people are 44% more likely to watch large quantities of streamed telly than older people; 35% of people aged 18-40 are watching 5+ hours a day versus 24.3% of those aged 41-65. 

But older people are nearly 20% more likely to watch large quantities of live terrestrial TV; 38.5% of people aged 41-65 say they’re watching more than five hours, versus 32.1% of people aged 18-40.

Netflix and chill, chill, chill

With more time to watch TV, more Brits have signed up to streaming platforms than last year. Netflix, which was already the nation’s most popular provider, has seen a 17% increase in UK users. Now, a massive 68% of Brits are subscribed to the streaming platform (compared with 58% in 2019). 

Recently-launched Disney Plus has already clocked up a 22% share of the market. And it’s proving to be a big hit with women aged 18-40 (whether they’re signing up for their kids or simply because they love Disney themselves).

Britbox, the new subscription streaming service launched by the BBC and ITV, has so far attracted 7% of Brits (helped by a free 30-day trial). Meanwhile, Plex, which launched in December offering free content from major Hollywood studios like MGM, Lionsgate and Warner Bros., was only used by 4% of people. 

Attest Media Consumption Report 2020 streaming services

Social distancing on social media

Bored Brits have also been whiling away the hours on social media. Nearly half of people (47%) are watching at least an hour of YouTube per day (that’s an increase of 27% on last year).

Meanwhile, 48% of Brits are checking Facebook at least every few hours, if not more frequently. The younger generation is also all over Instagram; 46% of 18-40 year olds say they’re scrolling Insta throughout the day.

And if you’ve started hearing a lot about TikTok, expect to hear a lot more. The short form video-sharing app has been breaking download records during the lockdown and nearly 21% of Brits aged 18-40 say they’re visiting the platform multiple times a day. This puts it hot on the heels of Snapchat.

UK media consumption report 2020

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Bel Booker

Senior Content Writer 

Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 125 million global consumers. She also likes cake.

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