Virgin Media reveals impact of coronavirus on TV consumption

Liberty Global-owned UK service provider Virgin Media has unveiled statistics revealing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on TV viewing habits, with the operator reporting a 10% increase in customers watching TV compared to pre-lockdown, and with customers watching an extra 41 minutes per day on average.

Saturday March 28 was the busiest day for customers tuning in to TV channels and apps with 17% and 42% growth respectively compared to the eight previous Saturdays. The Big Night In from the BBC was the most viewed event over the lockdown months.

News, music and radio channels saw growth in demand while use of video-on-demand and streaming apps has also grown, with customers spending 29% longer watching programmes on demand.

Virgin Media also said that the coronavirus lockdown saw a third more data being downloaded compared with before the lockdown.

With millions more people working from home, music and radio channels experienced a 50% increase in demand as customers tuned in to their favourite hits to stay entertained.

Use of the service provider’s Karaoke app saw a 124% increase in usage time during the early lockdown, while viewers spent five hours more on average during April watching pay TV kids channels such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network compared to February.

Overall, pay kids TV channels saw a 19% increase in viewing time during early lockdown

Among streaming apps, Netflix experiencing a 32% incfrease in app usage time via the Virgin TV platform during early lockdown. The YouTube app was also accessed by 16% more users and overall viewing time increased by 37%.

The return of live football also saw a boost in audiences compared with before the lockdown. When the Bundlesliga returned in May, Dortmund’s match against Bayern Munich on May 26 was watched by 111% more customers than the team’s previous league fixture on November 11.

Manchester City vs Arsenal, which was the second live match of the Premier League’s return, saw a 47% increase in viewership compared to the respective matches televised in March 2019 and 2018.

Scotland increased daily viewing of linear channels the most of any part of the UK with 46 minutes more per day. This was followed by Northern Ireland with 44 minutes per day and London and the North East with 42 minutes additional viewing time per day respectively.

Use of live TV on the Virgin TV Go service increased 12% increase in May when compared to April.

David Bouchier, chief digital entertainment officer at Virgin Media, said: “Lockdown has certainly seen a leap in TV viewing across the nation. Whether tuning in to the latest news or catching up on favourite movie or TV series, our customers have been glued to their television sets throughout lockdown to stay informed and entertained. Alongside our ultrafast connectivity, we’ve supported customers through these difficult months by making more than 50 channels available at no extra cost and launching new, fully-integrated apps so it’s even easier for customers to find, watch and enjoy terrific TV and movies whenever they want.”

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