Television usage in the United Kingdom was up in 2020 compared the previous year. That was down to increased availability to view due to the coronavirus restrictions. Total television set usage was 271 minutes per person a day in 2020. That is a 15% increase of 34 minutes a day compared to 2019. Much of that increase was in unidentified viewing, including online video subscription services.
The measure of total television set use covers channels reported by the research organisation BARB as well was unidentified viewing, including non-broadcaster online video services on television and gaming.
In 2019, television usage ranged from around 4 hours and 20 minutes a day in January down to just below 3 hours and 40 minutes a day in July.
In 2020, television usage was around the same as the previous year in January and February but from the first national lockdown in March onwards it was higher than in the same months the previous year.
In April and December 2020, total television usage was 306 minutes a day and 302 minutes a day respectively. The average across the year was 4 hours 30 minutes a day per individual.
Viewing of channels reported by BARB was at its highest level for December since 2017 and up by 5% on December 2019.
Much of the increase in television usage can be attributed to unidentified viewing, including online video subscription services.
In 2019, viewing of BARB reported channels made up about 70% of television usage. In 2020 that fell to around 60%.
In April 2019, unidentified viewing was around 50 minutes per individual a day. In April 2020, that had risen to over 1 hour 30 minutes a day.
Television usage remained high in January 2021. Partially consolidated data for 4-10 January shows that linear television viewing for the week averaged 210 minutes a day, 17 minutes higher than the comparative week of 6-12 January 2020.
When the prime minister once again addressed the nation on 4 January to announce a further national lockdown, broadcast across five television channels, it was watched by just over 25.1 million individuals, a 77.3% share of viewing at this time, based on consolidated 7-day TV set viewing. This was slightly lower than the announcement of the first lockdown in March 2020, which was watched by 28.2 million.