Global Media Intelligence 2021: Italy

Noteworthy in 2021

The pandemic fueled major increases in digital video viewing, but live TV also kept its audience.

  • Italy was one of the first countries hit by COVID-19 in 2020, as cases in its ski resorts spread rapidly—and the effects of the then-unknown disease have been brutal. Strict lockdowns were in force between March and early June 2020, and again during much of H1 2021. As a result, many patterns of media consumption were similar during the two periods when GWI carried out its surveys. Fortunately, the Italian economy was in better shape early this year than in H1 2020, when GDP plunged by double digits. That improvement may have encouraged some internet users to invest for the first time in nice-to-have devices, such as smart TVs.
  • More than 95% of internet users in Italy ages 16 to 64 had watched live TV in the month prior to polling in H1 2021, and spent an average of 2 hours, 21 minutes (2:21) daily with it. Live TV viewing was more common in affluent homes, but 55- to 64-year-olds were the most loyal audience. Nearly 70% of respondents had taken advantage of TV channels’ catch-up or on-demand services, and 55.2% had watched TV shows they recorded earlier. As in previous years, younger internet users and those in higher-income households were more likely to choose these time-shifted options.
  • Video streaming is increasingly popular, too. Penetration ranged from 99.2% among internet users ages 16 to 24, to 84.0% among those 55 to 64; in the latter group, usage had climbed almost 9 percentage points year over year (YoY). In fact, digital video viewing had risen in all demographics, lifting the overall average to 91.7%. 2021 is the first year that the survey included YouTube in its digital video category, however, and that likely helped boost penetration rates.
  • The share of internet users watching paid-for video content also jumped. In H1 2021, 76.9% had accessed a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service like Netflix in the prior month—an annual gain of more than 8 percentage points. Among 16- to 24-year-olds, takeup was 92.2%; it was more than 83% among adults 25 to 34 and affluents. However, the average time spent streaming online TV and video was less than half the time devoted to broadcast TV, at 1:03 per day.
  • Social networking and messaging were the only media activities to rival live TV and video streaming in overall reach. In H1 2021, 97.3% of internet users polled in Italy had checked in to at least one of 37 named social platforms, and 94.2% had used at least one of 20 named messaging services. Time spent daily with social media and messaging averaged 1:50—about half an hour less than time devoted to broadcast TV.
  • More than 8 in 10 respondents in Italy had listened to live radio programs. The audience for streamed music, podcasts, and other digital audio content was a good deal smaller, at 66.1% of internet users—though again, more than 92% of the youngest respondents had recently listened to such content. Daily time spent with online audio (1:07) was virtually identical to time spent with broadcast radio (1:06).


Karin von Abrams


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