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

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A weekly tracker: week 5 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, are all disrupting how the public accesses digital content. 

Monitoring the nature and impacts of these disruptions is critically important to understand the impact that the crisis is having on the Creative Industries, like film, TV, music, video games, publishing and theatre. 

To meet this need, we have partnered with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and research agency, AudienceNet, to follow 1,000 consumers over six weeks. 

Insights from weeks 1-5 of the study (9th April - 15th May 2020)
Time spent consuming cultural content
  • After four weeks of relative stability for most categories in terms of the amount of time spent consuming content per day, online or offline, this week saw some notable reductions. Levels of overall time spent consuming per day fell for music, film, TV and magazines in week 5, taking them to the lowest levels recorded in the study.
  • Despite falling to its lowest level, TV continued to have the highest median time across categories. Video games, which was one of the categories that remained stable in week 5, was only marginally behind TV in terms of median time spent on consumption. Books and audiobooks also remained stable in week 5.
Levels of downloading, streaming and accessing content
  • The proportion of people streaming films fell significantly, to its lowest level. Music, which has been quite volatile (up or down) across the weeks in terms of the proportion streaming or downloading had quite a stable week, with figures in-line with week 4.
  • There has been a steady decline in the proportion accessing/downloading e-books and the difference between week 5 and week 1 is significant. The median number or hours spent streaming in the past week remained stable for music and film (3 and 4 hours), a trend that has been consistent since week 2. TV, while still lower than its peak in week 1 (8 hours), saw an increase for the first time since week 2, rising from 5 to 6 hours.
Legal and illegal sources
  • When looking across the weeks, levels of illegal downloading or streaming have declined notably for film and TV, while for music there has been relatively little change.
  • Looking at the total use of illegal methods for accessing/downloading video games, the proportion, after a significant decline in week 4, went back up by 3 percentage points in week 5. For digital magazines there was a significant decrease of 11 percentage points in week 5 – to the lowest level seen in the study by some margin.
Wellbeing
  • There was no change in wellbeing measures between weeks 4 and 5.
  • While levels of anxiety remained at their lowest point in the study, the trend of decreasing week-on-week was not present in week 5.

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

About the study

The survey 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 is being conducted each week over six weeks (9th April to 24th May 2020) with 1,000 consumers aged 16+ and representative of the UK population. The main focus of the survey is 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 seem to be embracing during the COVID-19 crisis, such as watching filmed performances of theatre, concerts and dance shows and looking at art, paintings and photographs online.

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