Back to the future: media consumption turned on head

tv watchingClaims that there has never been a better time to launch a TV ad campaign have been backed by a new report which shows the lockdown has seen Brits going back in time to plonk themselves in front of the telly for hours each day.

According to last week’s AA/Warc Expenditure Report, TV adspend will be down 46.6% in Q2, a move which many argue gives challenger brands the opportunity to exploit the low rates on offer.  In some cases, TV advertising costs have plummeted by as much as 50%.

Meanwhile, Sky Media has launched a new scheme offering 100 SMEs free ad space worth a total of £1m on its data-driven AdSmart addressable TV platform.

Now, a new study through Viewers-Logic – which passively monitors a panel of 6,000+ UK consumers across all platforms – shows media consumption has been turned on its head.

It reveals that just before the lockdown Brits were spending 45% more time on their mobile devices than watching TV, although that gap has now narrowed to only 28%.  TV viewing has soared by 32%, almost double that of mobile usage which has increased by 17%.

Looking at the data by gender reveals even narrower gaps between TV and mobile usage. Presently, men are only spending 35% more time on their devices than on watching TV compared to 16% before the lockdown, perhaps suggesting that their focus has shifted more towards news consumption and entertainment.

For women, the gap between mobile devices and TV has also narrowed although less markedly from 50 to 40%, confirming findings from other studies showing that women on average spend more time on social networks than men.

Generational differences reveal the age group of up to 34 years old has registered significant differences between pre-lockdown when they spent 107% more time on their mobile devices than watching TV. The lockdown seems to have created new audiences for TV within this age group and now the gap has narrowed down to only 81% more time spent on their mobile devices.

The figures for the over 34 years also shifted upwards in favour of TV and while they 23% spent more time on devices before the lockdown, they spend only 12% more at present.

The study claims the consumer thirst for news coverage has until recently been the main driver of this increase in TV consumption. At its peak during the first few days of the lockdown Brits were spending 24% of their TV viewing time on news programmes but this has now slowly decreased to around 18%. Even so, this figure is still far higher than the pre-lockdown news programmes share of 11%.

As lockdown fatigue has set in, viewers seem to have moved away from the harsh reality presented by news bulletins and are increasingly shifting their attention to more escapist programming such as films and entertainment, although only marginally, with the audience share rising by around 5% and 3% respectively.

However, despite sports channels’ best efforts to keep viewers engaged with “classic” games, viewing has plummeted from 12% of time before the lockdown to less than 2%, a worrying statistic for broadcasters for which advertising around sports events represent a considerable slice of their revenues and it is still uncertain how long sports will be suspended for.

Maybe that would be one genre that advertisers best avoid for the time being…

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