What People Watch

What People Watch: Viewing by 11-16s

27 January 2021

Welcome to a new edition of What People Watch, a series exploring different aspects of how UK audiences are watching television now. In this edition we look at how younger viewers are once again changing their viewing patterns in lockdown, as well as our regular look at viewing trends overall.

TV set viewing to BARB-reported channels
Weekly viewing

Our regular chart on weekly viewing to linear TV channels and unidentified viewing shows that consolidated 7-day viewing was 211 minutes a day in week 2, stable week on week and remaining almost 20 minutes per day higher than the comparative period of 2020. Live and same-day viewing in week 3 is already higher than the consolidated total from 2020, so the gap will increase once this viewing is included. Levels of live viewing were similar in weeks 2 and 3, so we can expect the consolidated total next week to be stable week-on-week

Weekly levels of unidentified viewing continue to be stable at a higher level than 2020, at almost 100 minutes a day.

Viewing among Children
In the second edition of What People Watch last year, we looked at how increased availability of audiences during daytime had increased viewing. This remains the case during the latest lockdown, with viewing among individuals 4+ up by almost 26% on weekdays between 0900-1500 compared to the same period last year.

One factor in this availability is the fact that children are largely off school, thus increasing the hours when they have an opportunity to view. And with broadcasters increasing the educational content that is on offer, we can see that younger viewers are taking this opportunity.
On 11th January, BBC2 launched an educational programme for secondary school pupils as part of its daytime schedule on weekdays at 1300. After two weeks, we can see from the chart above that the programming has contributed to a growth in audience from this demographic.

During a term-time benchmark period of weekday viewing (0600-2400) from November 30th to December 11th 2020 , BBC2 saw just under 0.7% of its channel audience come from the secondary school age-bracket of children aged 11-16. Across the last two weeks of weekdays in January 2021, this has increased to over 1.5%.

The hourly breakdown above shows where this growth has been achieved. The proportion of BBC2’s audience aged 11-16 between 0900 and 1100 is considerably higher, reflecting the greater availability of audience in the morning, but clearly the strongest contributor is the educational programming. The main daily programme between 1300-1400 averaged 6.2% of its audience from the 11-16 age group, easily the highest proportion of the day for BBC2. The educational focus of the documentaries that follow at 1400 (including The Planets) also deliver a much higher proportion of secondary school age children than usual. There is also some continuing impact into the afternoon and evening slots, with content such as The Masters snooker championship delivering greater numbers of 11-16s than the benchmark period programming.

Although these percentage levels may seem like a relatively low proportion of the audience (with over 90% of the audience outside the secondary school age group), it is worth remembering that at a Total TV viewing level, 11-16s make up 1.9% of viewing on average. There is a clear over-performance in these programming slots for the intended audience.

Programming update
One of the trends that we saw consistently throughout 2020 was the increased viewing to news broadcasts, with viewers understandably keen to keep up to date with the latest coronavirus situation. Other big news events can also draw an audience. Last week BBC1, ITV, BBC News and Sky News carried live coverage of the inauguration ceremony of the 46th President of the USA, Joe Biden.

Total average audience across these channels was over 7.1 million viewers, a combined 48.8% audience share. This is based on the specific programmes on BBC1, BBC News and ITV between 1530-1800, and the same daypart on Sky News. In total, almost 16m individuals watched at least 3 minutes of one of these programmes. Coverage of previous inaugurations varies by channel, but in terms of BBC1 live coverage, the average audience and share for the Biden ceremony was the highest since President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.

What People Watch will return with further insights into current viewing behaviour.

Doug Whelpdale, Insights Manager, BARB

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