Lead Forensics

Christmas viewing trends you should know about

16 November 2021


Sky has just published a sackful of new stats around festive viewing trends on VOD – so, for your convenience, here’s a whistle-stop tour of key insights we believe can add value to your own Christmas media strategy.

Let’s start with a biggy: live TV still dominated our festive viewing habits in 2020, accounting for 62% of all television content watched on Christmas Day.

People are also tuning in earlier on Christmas and Boxing Day compared to the rest of the year, with viewing up by 77% at 10am and 89% at 11am – in fact, double-digit increases remain across nearly every hour of the day.

December in general attracts higher viewing figures across all age groups, including 16-34s, an audience that increased by 13.7% in 2019. Shift the focus to all individuals and viewing rose by 10.2%.

Platforms, genres and mutual viewing

The picture is no less illuminating when we turn the lens to Sky platforms. Last December saw double-digit growth in viewing figures across the live schedule, recorded content, set-top box VOD and Sky Go, while Sky Sports on YouTube was subject to a whopping 52% surge in viewing.

For brands interested in expanding their VOD strategy, the genre of content will also be a key consideration. Unsurprisingly, films enjoy the biggest uplift in viewing at 125%, compared to the rest of the year. This is followed by music (100%), religion (73%), entertainment (53%) and children’s content (50%).

So, we’ve covered audience, platform and genre, but what about the actual way we consume TV content over the festive season? Well, the headline stat here is that mutual viewing – in other words, people watching television together – increased by 15% in December 2019 compared to the rest of the year; this partially explains why audiences grow across all age groups during the festive season, as families hunker down for some yuletide entertainment.

Tips for advertisers this festive season

If your business is planning to launch a VOD campaign this Christmas, there are a few consumer insights worth paying attention to.

36% of buyers want to see a festive tone in ads this year, while 24% would like the commercials they watch to be uplifting and 21% want ads to be funny. As always, there’s also a considerable yearning for nostalgia, with 17% of viewers calling for nods to yesteryear.

Perhaps one of the most pertinent insights to emerge from the report, however, is a greater focus on sustainable gift purchases this year. 65% of 16-34s cite the environmental impact of a product as key in their decision-making; 55% of 24-34s and 47% of 35-44 share this mindset, while 45-54s and 55-64s both sit at 35%. Viewers aged over 65 have the lowest focus on sustainability, though even here, 32% will be influenced by a brand’s green credentials.

Room to grow

With 71% of consumers claiming they are likely to spend the same or more on Christmas gifts than they did last year, and 75% saying they will buy their gifts online (followed by department stores at 52%), it’s vital that businesses have a robust plan in place to capitalise on this opportunity.

TV and VOD are perfect vehicles for increasing visibility and share of voice amongst the festive clutter, and the good news is that come Christmas Day, many advertisers have come off air.

If we analyse the five biggest TV spenders over 2019, for example, we can see that their impacts – or one viewing of an ad, by one person, on one occasion – decreased by 42% between December 23rd – 29th, compared to the week before. The difference is even starker when you look at the first week of January, with a 78% fall in impacts. Due to the mechanics of supply and demand, advertising rates also fall, making this a potentially cost-effective opportunity for smaller advertisers.

This trend suggests that many larger advertisers are of the view that the week of Christmas itself is too late, with much of our gift buying completed. Yet, while there may be some truth to this, it doesn’t take into account last-minute purchases, or those of us with some cash gifts to splash. Others may simply want to capitalise on sales, with many brands now starting their promotions much earlier than January.

Ultimately, there is no cut-off to the opportunities available over the festive season. With the right strategy across TV and VOD, this Christmas could provide the brand-building stimulus your business needs to start 2022 with a bang.

Talk to our experts to learn more about advertising over Christmas.

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