Understanding changes to the way that we consume culture at home during COVID-19

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A weekly tracker: the final week of the 6-week study

The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 and the lockdown has changed the way in which we experience cultural content. Movement restrictions leading to more time in the home, the mental wellbeing consequences of social distancing and the huge economic uncertainties, have disrupted the way that the public have accessed digital content over the past few weeks during the lockdown, and will likely continue in the long-term. 

Monitoring the nature and impacts of these disruptions has been critically important to understand the impact that the crisis is having on the Creative Industries, like film, TV, music, video games, publishing and theatre. In different ways these sectors generate billions of pounds of value added for the UK economy through physical engagement with consumers.

The six-week study ran from 9th April to 20th May 2020. Today we are reporting on the final week, including insights from across the study for each of the five main content categories of Music, Film, TV, Video Games and E-publishing. In the coming weeks we will be producing a fuller report with new analysis and data looking across the whole study.

Key insights from the final week of the study
Time spent consuming cultural content

After some declines in the median amount of time spent consuming content per day, online or offline, two of the categories (music and TV) bounced back somewhat in week 6. There were no changes in time spent per day consuming film, video games, books, magazines and audiobooks in week 6. TV continued to have the highest median time across categories (3.3 hours per week).

Wellbeing and changes to work and lifestyle

Wellbeing measures saw only marginal changes from week 5 to week 6. However, the level of anxiety has declined in most weeks - including week 5 to week 6 - and is now significantly lower than the highpoint in week 1. Feelings of life being worthwhile have also significantly shifted downwards from weeks 1 to 6.

Changes to work/lifestyle owing to COVID-19 measures were consistent with those reported in week 5, except for the proportion self-isolating, which fell significantly by 2 percentage points to 3%. This measure is also the only one to have significantly changed since the start of the study.

Use of legal and illegal sources

The use of illegal downloading, accessing or streaming methods has fluctuated, however on the whole for most categories, it has declined over the course of the study. Illegal streaming levels were notably lower than for illegal downloading. There were marginal changes from week 5 to week 6 for most categories, however for magazines the level of illegal accessing/downloading increased by 10 percentage points and for audiobooks by a significant 16 percentage points.

Non-traditional content categories

For content categories outside of the main five we looked at, such as watching filmed theatre and looking at art online, there were no significant changes when comparing total weekly consumption in week 6 to week 5. Looking across the six-week study at total weekly consumption, 9 out of the 17 content categories have shown a general decline to the point where they are significantly below their highest points, which were seen in week 1 or 2.

Physical purchasing

Physical purchasing, like most other consumption methods, saw a peak in week 2 across all categories. Despite declines in the following weeks, some categories saw a slight increase in week 6 and most remained notably higher than the levels seen at the start of the study (i.e. week 1).

Find out more in the full report for week 6, and catch up on the insights from week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4 and week 5. Learn more about the study in the blog from Hasan Bakhshi, Director of the PEC.

About the study

The study builds upon the IPO’s Online Copyright Infringement (OCI) Tracker Survey, which has been running since 2012. By using many identical questions on consumer behaviour from the OCI Tracker, our study provides us with a unique opportunity to compare consumer behaviours during the crisis period with historical trends.

The survey was conducted on a weekly basis over six weeks (9th April to 20th May 2020) with 1,000 consumers aged 16+ and representative of the UK population. The main focus of the survey was on five content categories: Music, Film, TV, Video Games and E-publishing, but it also covers a range of non-traditional digital activities that consumers seemed to embrace during the lockdown, such as watching filmed performances of theatre, concerts and dance shows and looking at art, paintings and photographs online.

We were unfortunately unable to include radio or podcasts in the study as there were no questions about these content categories in the OCI Tracker Survey that it was based on. We have gathered data about podcasts and radio from week 6 of the study, which features at the end of the week 6 report. We are unable to compare this to previous years, however we hope it is still useful for anyone interested in radio and podcast consumption. 


Published 5th June 2020

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

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