Global Media Intelligence 2021: United Kingdom

Noteworthy in 2021

More internet users watched digital video than broadcast TV, but live TV claimed twice as much time.

  • More than 86% of UK internet users polled in H1 2021 had watched live TV in the prior month, spending an average 2 hours, 39 minutes (2:39) per day—a very minimal year-over-year (YoY) increase.
  • As last year, about two-thirds of UK respondents had viewed pre-recorded TV shows.
  • The share who watched programs via TV channels’ catch-up or on-demand services, such as the BBC iPlayer or All4, rose slightly, to 84.2%. As in prior years, the UK registered one of the highest rates of catch-up TV viewing globally—thanks largely to the BBC launching one of the first such services anywhere in July 2007. This year, engagement with catch-up services was almost uniform across age brackets but still increased in direct correlation with household income, from 77.5% in the least well-to-do homes to 91.4% in the most affluent.
  • The share of UK respondents viewing content via subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video took a sizable jump as well this year to 80.8%. Younger people were still in the vanguard here; 94.2% of internet users ages 16 to 24 had watched SVOD in the previous month. But—as in 2020—penetration was up YoY in every demographic, including 55- to 64-year-olds. In that cohort, usage approached 61% in H1 2021.
  • Overall, takeup of numerous viewing options and services boosted VOD penetration to 92.5%—confirmation that digital video viewing is now substantially more common among internet users than live TV viewing. On average, respondents devoted 1:22 daily to streaming video content.


Karin von Abrams


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