TV since 1981

2020

January
BARB launches a new definition of television viewing, Total Three-Screen Viewing, that includes viewing of programmes and commercials on BARB-reported channels on a TV set, as well as viewing to programmes on tablets and PCs. Viewing is counted ‘As Viewed’ at time of watching, rather than ‘As Broadcast’.
February
As the global public-health crisis continues to develop, viewing to 24-hour news channels increases. Individuals 4+ Reach on a TV set across Sky News and BBC News increases +26% versus February 2019.
March
The UK enters a national lockdown on March 24th, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus. This sees use of a TV set grow significantly compared to seasonal averages, with both viewing to BARB-reported channels and unidentified viewing setting records.
The Prime Minister’s broadcast of March 23rd that announces the lockdown averages an audience of 28.3 million Individuals 4+ (including consolidated 7-day TV set viewing and 7-day viewing on tablets, PCs and smartphones) across six channels, one of the highest-rated programmes in BARB’s 40-year history.
BARB launches the integration of BARB data with IPA TouchPoints [link], helping media agencies, advertisers and broadcasters understand more about viewers through a wider range of behavioural characteristics.
April
Despite technical visits to panel-member homes not being possible during lockdown, BARB, with the support of its research contractors, continues to provide daily reporting of TV audiences in the UK.
HM The Queen delivers a special broadcast to the nation, simulcast on seven channels and averaging an audience of over 24.5 million individuals 4+ across 7-day consolidated TV set viewing and 7-day viewing on devices.
BARB continues its weekly series of articles, What People Watch [link], on how viewing is changing during lockdown.
May
BARB publishes its annual Viewing Report [link] for 2019, including articles on pre-broadcast viewing and the demographics of viewing across three screens, as well as the regular updates on annual share of viewing and 2019’s top programmes.
June
BARB releases its beta BVOD Planner with the support of RSMB and TechEdge, a tool to help agencies and advertisers plan campaigns across BARB-reported linear channels and broadcaster VOD platforms.
Premier League football returns to TV screens as the 2019-20 season is completed. The loss of live sport from TV schedules was one of the biggest genre-changes during lockdown. A range of channels show live matches, including the first broadcast of a Premier League game on free-to-air television.
July
BARB announces extension of current contract tender process by one year, with new contracts to start in 2024.
August
ITV’s Coronation Street, celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2020, is the top-rated programme of the month. Soap-operas were another genre impacted heavily by the hiatus in production during lockdown.
September
Filmed during lockdown, Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off returns with a launch episode that averages over 11.2m viewers (viewing on 4-screens after 7 days), a 39% audience share.
Channel 5 broadcasts its new version of All Creatures Great and Small, with the highest-rating episode in September achieving the channel’s best audience since 2016, with over 5m viewers (viewing on 4-screens after 7 days).
October
Another audience favourite that has adapted in order to air this year, BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing launches with over 11.2m viewers (viewing on 4-screens after 7 days) for its first live show.
November
With travel restrictions meaning that the usual trip to Australia was not possible, ITV’s I’m a Celebrity… moves to a Welsh castle and the programme stays top of the ratings. The premiere episode is the highest-rated show in November, with over 14.2m viewers across TV sets, PCs, tablets and smartphones after 7 days.
BARB publishes Q3 2020 data for the Establishment Survey, after having paused the study in Q2 due to the public-health crisis. Headlines include the continued rise of UK households with access to an SVOD service, and also a drop in the number of households that don’t have a TV set – perhaps driven by lockdown influencing people to have a working set at home.
December
Lockdowns and regional tier restrictions continue to influence the amount of TV set usage. Linear channels were watched for 210 minutes per day on average, the highest level of December viewing since 2017, while unidentified viewing also remained high.
New Year’s Eve viewing levels were also pushed up by many more people being asked to stay at home. The daypart between 2300 and 0015 delivered its highest ratings since 2015 for Total TV viewing, with levels 19% higher than last year.
Across 2020, the impact of coronavirus restrictions on viewing and TV set usage is clear. For the full year, aggregate TV set usage averages 271 minutes a day (based on linear channel viewing, unidentified viewing and viewing to BARB-reported non-linear channels). This is over 30 minutes a day higher than 2019, an increase of 15%. Viewing increased in each of the three categories compared to last year.