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What People Watch: SVOD households by region

1 June 2020

Welcome to What People Watch, a new series exploring different aspects of how UK audiences are watching television now. In this week’s edition, we delve into BARB’s latest Establishment Survey data for Q1 2020 to find out how SVOD subscription levels vary across the UK.

TV set viewing to BARB-reported channels

For the week ending May 24th (calendar week 21), consolidated 7-day TV set viewing to BARB-reported channels was 188 minutes per day, eleven minutes lower than last week. However, this is 14% higher year-on-year.

Unidentified viewing for week 21 was 84 minutes a day, relatively stable with the previous week.

Preliminary live and same-day viewing figures for the week-ending May 31st (calendar week 22) indicate that viewing to BARB-reported channels has been 162 minutes a day, which, on a like-for-like basis, is lower than recent weeks. Although we can expect the figure for the week to rise once consolidated viewing is added, the level of live and same-day viewing this week is in line with the comparable viewing in week 22 2019 (164 minutes), the first time this has happened during lockdown. The preliminary unidentified viewing for the week is also lower, at 77 minutes per day, again the lowest level since lockdown began.

SVOD households by region

Last week, BARB published the latest Q1 2020 data from the Establishment Survey. Various extracts from the data can be found in the trackers on our website, including the SVOD households tracker. This shows that as of Q1 2020, the number of households in the UK subscribing to at least one SVOD service reached 15m, or 53% of UK homes.

In last week’s What People Watch, we looked at television viewing by region across the UK. We can also look at SVOD subscription levels across the country using Establishment Survey data.

In Q1 2020, the West of England led the way on access to SVOD, with 62% of households having a subscription to one of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Now TV, nine percentage points above the UK average. London and Scotland ranked #2 and #3 in SVOD subscriptions, at 59% and 56% of homes respectively.

As one of the smaller regions, the West has seen some variability in its rankings over time, whereas London and Scotland have been more consistently towards the top of the rankings. This can also be seen by looking at the percentage change compared to Q1 2018. All regions have seen SVOD take-up growth of at least ten percentage points over this period, with Scotland experiencing the lowest level of growth (a ten-point change). So, other regions have been catching up with Scotland over time. The West has seen the biggest change in this two-year period, up 21 percentage-points versus Q1 2018. The other region that stands out in terms of growth is Northern Ireland, which has seen a 20-point increase over the last two years.

The scale of these changes, with the regions with high levels of SVOD access growing less over the past two years, and those with less SVOD access growing faster, has levelled off the picture across the UK. All regions now have at least 47% of homes with access to an SVOD subscription.

In last week’s What People Watch, we looked at the breakdown of unidentified viewing by region, which has increased during lockdown to 90 minutes per day for the UK as a whole. This showed that the leading regions for unidentified viewing were the North East & Cumbria and Wales. In these Q1 2020 Establishment Survey data for SVOD subscriptions, both of these regions are middle-ranking, illustrating that access to an SVOD subscription is not always the same as time spent watching an SVOD service, and that the unidentified viewing that BARB measures does not only include viewing to SVOD services.

It should be noted that the Q1 2020 Establishment Survey data do not include any data from during the lockdown period; in line with government guidance, fieldwork was suspended before the start of lockdown. This means any potential increase in SVOD subscription take-up since then (which would also help to increase the level of unidentified viewing), has not yet been captured by the Establishment Survey. Further data on the take-up of SVOD subscriptions will be available from BARB later in the year.

Jeremy Martin, Insights Manager, BARB

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