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Ofcom’s Media Nations 2021 – at speed

At some 37,000 or so words, Ofcom’s latest Media Nations report is a chunky document. Rewarding and insightful yes, but chunky too. It takes about 2 hours to read.

As Ofcom reports, people in the UK are now spending almost 6 hours a day watching TV and other video – a third of their waking hours – so it might be hard for you to find 2 hours to spare. Maybe Ofcom should publish its report in a TV format next year to tap into the trend.

Anyway, if you want to be up to speed on what the report means for TV but can’t spare a large chunk of time, worry not. We’ve pulled out some of the key TV points here, plus a couple of related stats that weren’t in Ofcom’s report. 5 minutes tops.

All forms of TV and video grew year on year

This echoes our own video research, although Ofcom’s approach is slightly different (they include gaming) and puts total video viewing time in 2020 at 5 hours, 40 minutes (up 47 minutes); our approach had it at 5 hours, 16 minutes (up 40 minutes).

Either way, not a huge difference, and we both arrived at a similar share of video for broadcaster content: Ofcom with 61% and us with 63.7%.

Broadcaster viewing increased (but its share of video fell)

Video is not a zero sum game, so as people cram more of it into the nooks and crannies of their lives, the slices of the video viewing cake grow and shrink accordingly.

So, although overall broadcaster viewing increased – driven by older viewers; 16-34’s broadcaster viewing stayed the same as 2019 – Ofcom found that broadcaster TV’s share of video went from 67% to 60%. The main thing, though, is that the cake as a whole substantially grew last year.

On-demand TV surged last year

SVOD viewing in particular, but BVOD as well, were boosted by 2020’s lockdowns. This again echoes our own analysis and isn’t a surprise. This was the direction of travel before the pandemic, and 2020’s unique circumstances only accelerated a trend that was well established.

On demand viewing will continue to grab a greater share of overall viewing – as it does though, it is important to keep things in perspective (two thirds of broadcaster TV was watched live in 2020) and remember that we will always prefer to watch live for certain types of TV, like reality shows, sport, news.

CTV in the UK is fledgling and faces challenges

You can read some frequently asked questions about the often confusing world of connected TV here.

Ofcom’s report looks at the AVOD part of the CTV landscape (advertising-supported video-on-demand services without broadcaster affiliation) and finds that although they have made inroads in the US, they still only have a limited presence over here. For example, Pluto TV had a monthly reach among online 18-64 year-olds of 4% in Q1 2021, and The Roku Channel, which launched in the UK in April 2020, had 2%.

Ofcom predicts that new AVOD services may have trouble establishing themselves in the UK because BVOD services offer UK-originated programming fresh from broadcast TV, whereas AVOD services are “heavily reliant on older programming”. It gives a good example: in April 2021, more than half of Pluto TV’s catalogue hours were of content at least ten years old, with 82% at least five years old.

TV advertising growth set to come from advanced TV

Ofcom notes that TV will recover from the pandemic hit – witness ITV announcing recently that they’d had their best ever June for advertising – and that the commercial TV broadcasters have invested in a range of new technologies and initiatives to drive advertising growth and make use of data collected from users. These include cross-media measurement (CFlight), programmatic advertising technologies and addressable advertising. You can read more about advanced TV advertising here.

TV advertising accounts for 91% of all video advertising

This is a vital stat that sadly didn’t make it into Ofcom’s report. Knowing how the video landscape breaks down and how big the viewing slices are is fascinating, but in advertising what’s more important to know is what that all means for … advertising.

As some forms of video don’t feature advertising – SVOD and the BBC standing out here – the slices of the video advertising viewing cake tell an important story that might be missed if you focus too much on how SVOD minutes grew. Here’s how it looks:

Broadcaster TV accounts for 91% of our video advertising day


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