UK adults spend 40% of waking hours in front of a screen, study finds

The average number of hours spent watching television and online streaming has surged in lockdown

Annabel Nugent
Wednesday 05 August 2020 09:00 BST
Comments
Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal as Marianne and Connell in Sally Rooney adaptation 'Normal People'
Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal as Marianne and Connell in Sally Rooney adaptation 'Normal People'

Television watching and online streaming hours have surged in lockdown, according to media regulator Ofcom.

Its annual study into UK media habits found that overall screen time for adults increased by almost a third (31 per cent) on last year.

Adults are spending 40 per cent of their waking hours in front of a screen, on average. In April, time spent on subscription streaming services also doubled.

At the height of lockdown – when stay-at-home measures were enforced most severely – adults spent an average of six hours and 25 minutes each day in front of a screen.

Online streaming habits have also seen a significant increase. People watched programmes on services including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ for one hour and 11 minutes per day, double the time spent before the pandemic.

12 million customers signed up to a new streaming service they hadn’t used previously. A quarter of these customers (3 million) had never subscribed to any such service before.

Older viewers, who typically watch more broadcast TV, increased their use of streaming platforms, too. One-third of 55 to 64 year olds, and also 15 per cent of people over the age of 65 used subscription services in the early weeks of lockdown.

On the whole, the use of streaming services is up 71 per cent on the same time last year. The figure also includes people viewing more content on platforms like YouTube and gaming sites.

It is not a surprise that the majority of new customers signed up to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. However, Disney+ overtook NowTV as the third most popular paid-for streaming platform.

Amazon Prime logo

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up
Amazon Prime logo

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

Although lockdown measures have been gradually lifting since the end of June, this increase in streaming services has held firm. Over half of UK adults (55 per cent) with new subscriptions said they intend to keep them and spend the same amount of time watching streamed content in the future.

Despite the increase in streaming services, public services broadcasters including BBC, ITV, STV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, still achieved their highest combined monthly share of broadcast television viewing (59 per cent) in more than six years, as viewers turned to trusted news services for updates on the pandemic.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in