Lockdown sees UK VOD, catch-up draw more viewers | Media Analysis | Business
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A study from EY report has found that while the UK lockdown ordered due to the Covid-19 outbreak has prompted a positive shift in UK households’ digital activity, concerns exist around broadband reliability, creating underlying levels of anxiety.
EY survey 19June2020
The survey of 2,500 UK consumers, conducted between 27 May and 1 June, outlines the top 10 challenges and opportunities facing providers in the wake of Covid-19. While the crisis has spurred greater engagement with technology – EY found that 21% of consumers were more engaged with the latest technology and gadgets for the home – less than half of households (44%) felt in control of their online personal data, while a quarter were concerned about a reduction in broadband performance.

The study found activities, from online shopping, increasing from 9% to 15%, to accessing online health services and watching catch-up TV, have all been adopted by more than a tenth of consumers since the UK entered lockdown. Older generations were part of this step-change across the nation – 15% of over-55s have watched broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) for the first time since the crisis began.

Alongside this uptick in first-time usage, households are doing more of what they did before the start of the lockdown. 41% were making more group video calls, 38% were using social media more often and 36% were watching more streaming TV. The average number of content streaming services used in the home is on the rise from 3.4 to 4.2, a greater than 20% rise over a year.

EY also noted that the big beneficiaries were both major global streaming services but also the Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs), with adoption of services from the two main channels up significantly.

And as streaming services and connected devices were used more often, home internet connectivity became a focus area for consumers during the crisis. The need for speed is important, but the survey data shows that the impact of lockdown and the resulting rise in homeworking has made households realise that reliability is the ultimate broadband attribute – 36% agree and only 11% disagree this is the case.

A quarter of consumers were concerned about a reduction in broadband quality since lockdown – rising to 32% of 18-24 year olds – while 26% believe that inconsistent broadband performance is making it difficult to work from home effectively. When assessing the reliability of their connection, lack of buffering when online (52%), consistent Wi-Fi signals throughout the house (50%) and consistent broadband speeds at all times of day (47%) are consumers’ top three indicators of the quality of their connection.

Yet UK consumers were also finding it difficult to assess the upside promised by fibre broadband in terms of speed and reliability. Only 54% were aware of the differences between different broadband technologies such as fibre, cable and full-fibre, while only 42% understand marketing terms such as ‘ultrafast’ and ‘superfast’ and what these types of broadband package offer in terms of speed. Additionally, only 10% of consumers want to upgrade to full fibre but 43% would switch if better network quality was guaranteed.

“Better articulation about what full-fibre broadband is and its benefits compared to what they currently use is critical,” said Praveen Shankar, EY’s head of the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector commenting on the research and its findings.

“Simple and effective language that consumers understand is essential, especially during this period of heightened reliance on the home internet. This will empower them to make informed choices about the best package to suit their needs. However, providers need to be wary that with anxieties on the rise and indications of digital adoptions waning, time is running out. It is vital to remain close to customers, understand their rapidly changing needs during the crisis and provide clear propositions that are simple to understand. Those who do this successfully will turn the tide to unlock new opportunities to serve customers and help the economy to grow.”