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    The 5 big consumption trends marketers must know from Ofcom Media Nations 2022

    Every year Ofcom explores the UK’s media consumption in depth, helping marketers, buyers and planners serve ads to the right people on the right platform at the right time. It has now dissected 2021, helping us to understand the trends we’ve seen this year. 

    Ofcom’s fifth annual Media Nations report explores consumption habits across broadcast TV and radio, as well as digital delivery including online video and audio streaming. Amid generational shifts, new tech and platform launches, and a return to the norm on much of 2020’s pandemic behavior, there’s a lot of ground to cover. 

    The Drum read the 106-page report to pull out the five shifts marketers should pay attention to.

    TV peaked during the pandemic

    In 2021, the average amount of daily time spent watching TV and video across all devices was down 25 minutes on 2020 at 5 hours 16 minutes – still slightly up on 2019. 

    View time for linear TV channels, recordings and on-demand content was down 9% on 2020 and just 4% on 2019, adding to the “long-term trend of decline in overall viewing of broadcasters’ content seen over the past decade.”

    However, broadcaster video on demand (BVOD) viewing across BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4 was up three minutes a day to an average of 15. It’s not much, but it is movement in the correct direction for the broadcasters building for a future beyond linear. BVOD advertising now accounts for 14% of TV advertising (excluding revenues from sponsorship and product placement).

    So per the figures, the broadcaster’s share of viewers trended in 2019 at 67%, 2020 at 61% and 2021 at 51%.

    65-74-year-olds watched more TV on average than pre-pandemic: 5 hours 50 minutes in 2021, compared to 5 hours 35 minutes in 2019. Ofcom reports this is nearly seven times as much broadcast TV as children and young adults a day.

    Meanwhile, AV ad revenue increased to £19bn in 2021, up 16.9% on 2020. A surge in online video advertising and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) revenue accounted for 58% of the £2.7bn increase.

    Despite a 13% decline in live TV viewing in 2021, TV advertising returned to growth after six consecutive years of contraction. This may of course be because of inflation due to advertisers paying more to reach audiences that are falling off the medium.

    SVOD grows – but for how long?

    67% of households said they had SVOD – down 1% on the previous year to 19.2 million households, a drop of more than 350,000 households. These services accounted for 18% of UK video viewing. But they also compete with social platform video still dominated by YouTube and Facebook, as well as TikTok playing catch-up.

    Price rises and user growth surged 27% year-on-year to a revenue of £2.7bn, just shy of 2020’s 28% growth.

    But alarm bells are sounding. The pool of people still to adopt an SVOD service is shrinking, so the cost of user acquisition and retention will increase. Mixed with a cost-of-living crisis, next year’s growth may be dependent on a new solution – perhaps the introduction of ad-funded tiers that we’ve seen teased at Netflix and Disney. Also noteworthy is ITV’s ITVX, which is actually going in the other direction to introduce an ad-free subscription version of its service with additional bundled content and perks.

    One notable change for 16-34s was that 2021 was the first year since 2017 in which their viewing on SVOD and YouTube reduced.

    Another is that despite their global success, nationally streaming shows don’t tend to breach the UK’s top 10 most-viewed properties. Barb data showed that the most-watched programs on Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ ranked below Netflix’s top titles – for now. And that often lagged under the broadcaster’s hardest-punching water-cooler moments (such as live sports, anticipated drama and – in 2021 at least – government Covid-19 alerts). 

    So, Netflix remains the largest SVOD provider in the UK, with 17.1 million households (60%) subscribing, followed by Amazon Prime Video (46%) and Disney+ (23%) – and that could change depending on user preferences. 

    40% of online adults and teens say they normally go to SVOD first when looking for content, compared to 37% who say they try TV channels first.

    Short-form social’s varying appeal

    One-third of adults (32%) watch short-form videos... but it’s not quite so simple. We tend to watch different content on different platforms.

    First of all, 69% of 15-17-year-olds and 65% of 18-24-year-olds watched short-form videos daily, compared to 12% of those aged 65+.

    Videos uploaded by friends and family (94%) and videos/vlogs by social media influencers (92%) were the most popular genres among 15-17-year-olds.

    Among 18-24-year-olds, videos uploaded by the general public won out (74%). ‘How to’ videos were most popular for 25-34-year-olds (69%) and for 35-44s (64%).

    In another (perhaps worrying) trend, among all adults how-to videos (64%) and videos uploaded by the general public (60%) overtook news (59%) as the most popular genres to watch in 2022. Can we put this down to Covid fatigue?

    And, finally, it is worth noting that time spent with TikTok increased, perhaps encouraged by the platform extending video length from one minute to three, boosting the average video length to two minutes. But exactly how long does a video have to be before it stops being short-form content? 

    Audio’s sound barrier

    As The Drum conducts its Audio Deep Dive, Ofcom notes that audio listening time on live radio has continued to lose share, from 75% in 2017 to a mere 63% in 2022. Meanwhile, and somewhat connected, music/podcast services more than doubled their share from 8% to 20%. Furthermore, young adults were more likely to spend time with the tech giant services.

    On radio, radio sets (DAB and analog) accounted for 73% of listening hours in Q1 2022. 10% were via smart speakers, 12% were via other online means and a further 5% were through digital TV.

    So with fragmentation and choice aplenty, how young adults aged 15-34 spend their time listening differed hugely. Listening to online music via a streaming service accounted for 47% of their total listening time in Q1 2022 – more than double the 22% in 2017. For this age group, live radio on a radio set’s share of listening was around a quarter of total time – a considerable decline from 44% in 2017. Radio needs to win this audience back. 

    From the revenue perspective, despite “difficult trading conditions” radio revenues totaled £638m in 2021, up 20% year-on-year, and 4% higher than 2019 – and that’s with the closure of numerous local services in favor of regionalized hubs. As in 2020, the largest single advertiser on UK commercial radio in 2021 was the government. Will such spend dry up in 2022? Second place in 2021 was McDonald’s. 

    Expenditure on audio advertising on streaming platforms and online radio apps hit £110m in 2021, up by a reported 56% year-on-year.

    And podcast spend was up 61% to reach £54m. About one in five adults listen to a podcast at least once a week. That will need to be higher to drive more spend. Podcast listeners were most likely to be men under 45 from the ABC1 socio-economy group. While people from a minority ethnic background were less likely than the white population to listen to the radio each week (75% v 92%), they were slightly more likely to listen to podcasts.

    Voice stays silent

    And the voice revolution seems to have stalled. Ofcom’s Technology Tracker found that about four in 10 (39%) people in the UK aged 16+ had a smart speaker in their household in 2022, up from just 22% in 2020. Most people who had a smart speaker in their household claimed to personally use it, while 10% didn’t.

    Of those who used their devices, the majority of behaviors were listening to music via a streaming service (61%) and live radio (59%). These were followed by getting weather reports (37%) and searching for information online (35%). Using the smart speaker as an alarm or personal reminder (32%) or for news reports (27%) was also common.

    Most watched linear TV programs

    The final of Euro 2020 (broadcast in 2021) between England and Italy had a combined audience of more than 22 million on BBC One (18 million) and ITV (4.4 million).

    The semi-final between England and Denmark, not simulcast, saw 18.4 million tuning in on ITV.

    Third was the finale of BBC police drama Line of Duty, which attracted 16.5 million viewers, while Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was the fourth-most watched program in 2021 (14.9 million viewers).

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