Lead Forensics

Ofcom Media Nations report: key takeaways

18 August 2021


The way adults in the UK engage with media has been changing over the past eighteen months – a shift largely fuelled by the seismic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on lifestyles and attitudes.

Charting the precise coordinates of this change is anything but simple. Yet fear not, because Ofcom’s fourth annual Media Nations Report has landed. All throughout its 102 pages are eye-opening insights that will aid marketers in efforts to future-proof their brands and media strategies.

We recommend reading the full report if you have a spare hour or two, but for those of you who are spinning at least forty plates right now, here are a few key takeaways to boost your business.

SVOD viewing nearly doubles, but broadcast TV also gains

 In a year and a half beset by lockdowns, it won’t come as a surprise to learn that all forms of video viewing saw an increase.

The big headline is the rise of SVOD (subscription video-on-demand), with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime seeing viewing figures almost double over the course of 2020; nearly half of all UK households now subscribe to an SVOD service, with total viewing share rising from 12% in 2019 to 19% in 2020.

However, 61% of all video viewing among UK adults in 2020 remained attributable to broadcast TV – including live, BVOD and recorded play-back – with the average adult watching 3 hours 12 minutes.

While this share of viewing marks a drop of 8% compared to 2019, the growing take-up of Connected TVs in UK homes promises to drive innovation and open up new opportunities for advertisers in the TV market.

It’s also worth noting that, despite another boom in SVOD subscriptions over multiple lockdowns – and gains in emerging markets – Netflix is fast approaching a saturation point with regards to subscriptions. We predict that it won’t be long until the streaming giant enters the AVOD fray, potentially in the form of a tiered subscription model whereby users who do not want to spend on premium rates can pay less to access content interlaced with advertisements. Watch this space.

A different picture emerges for 16-34s

While video viewing in the UK increased among all adults, the picture takes on a different complexion when focusing particularly on the 16-34s. Despite viewing figures for broadcast TV remaining unchanged compared to 2019, its share of viewing dropped from 38% to 32% as a result of increased SVOD viewing. YouTube was also a winner with rises in viewing across all devices, while games consoles also enjoyed a leap.

What does this mean for advertisers? Diversify your audio-visual media strategy! It’s long been suggested that live TV does not perform efficiently enough for young adults anymore, but with the likes of BVOD and YouTube remaining effective drivers of reach – and TikTok viewing growing significantly – opportunities for advertisers targeting this demographic remain plentiful within long-form and short-form video content.

Improved cross-measurement promises to accelerate BVOD growth

With the launch of CFlight – an industry collaboration between Sky, Channel 4, ITV and Thinkbox – enabling the measurement of reach across BVOD and linear TV for the first time, one of the main barriers for many advertisers when it comes to the take-up of broadcaster video-on-demand has been dismantled.

The development of this new capability will facilitate a better understanding of how BVOD generates incremental reach when used alongside linear TV advertising; armed with this knowledge, we predict this dual-pronged approach will soon become the accepted wisdom among television advertisers – and with initiatives in the pipeline that will bring YouTube and other online video under the same umbrella, the future of cross-media viewing analysis looks an enticing one.

Allied with this is the greater targeting accuracy permitted by BVOD. With 79% of UK households now home to a Connected TV, some analysts predict that around 25% of all commercial Public Service Broadcaster revenue will emanate from connected screens by 2025, with the ever-evolving capacity to target viewers on an addressable level poised to wrest ad spend away from online media channels.

Innovation in radio gives it room to thrive

Two thirds of adults in the UK still listen to live radio on a weekly basis, accounting for 58% of total audio media time.

The pandemic has, of course, proved to be the catalyst for an overall decline in audio listening, with more people working from home and consequently less time spent commuting. But this isn’t to say that radio’s time in the sun is drawing to and – far from it, in fact, with recent indicators suggesting a recovery in listening figures. Moreover, the continuing convergence of radio and online is widening the range of possibilities available to advertisers.

DAB and smart speakers have both provided a boon to the radio advertising industry, with 56% of adults having DAB radio in their home and 50% owning an Alexa, Google Home or alternative brand of speaker. Indeed, at-home listening has grown significantly – an increase that runs concurrent with the reduction in commuter hours. This, in turns, opens up new possibilities for advertisers.

Among younger adults, music streaming services continue to dominate audio time. As seen with other media channels, there is a distinct difference in media consumption habits by age. This underlines the importance of bespoke planning and audience research. On a related note, the slowing rate of growth in terms of expenditure on music subscriptions suggests the uptake of premium, ad-free services is nearing peak maturity – with spending highest in the 35-44 age bracket.

Final thoughts on the Ofcom Media Nations Report

The Covid pandemic has accelerated shifts in the media landscape that were already in progress; indeed, there is nothing truly surprising in Ofcom’s report. Ultimately, advertisers need to continue doing what successful advertisers have always done: assess, adapt and invest.

Your media agency will have its finger firmly on the pulse when it comes to the latest trends in media consumption, and by building detailed and comprehensive audience personas, you can ensure your brand is always present at the right touch points.

Contact our experts if you would like to learn more about the latest opportunities available to your business.

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