Gifted a captive audience, television has seen its ratings soar during the coronavirus crisis. “People are spending much longer in front of TV sets,” Justin Sampson, CEO of ratings body Barb, told an RTS Zoom event in June. During the first nine weeks of the lockdown, people spent an average of five hours seven minutes in front of the box, a third more than during the same period in 2019.
Independent producers are the most vulnerable to the economic carnage unleashed on the television sector by coronavirus. That was the consensus of a lively RTS webinar examining the impact of Covd-19 on the UK’s TV and related content industries. However, despite this worrying situation, there was agreement that all the British broadcasters would survive the downturn.
“People are spending much longer in front of TV sets,” Justin Sampson, CEO of ratings body Barb, told an RTS Zoom event in early June.
During the first nine weeks of the lockdown, people spent an average of 5 hours 7 minutes in front of the box, 33% more than during the equivalent period in 2019. These are “the kind of levels you’d normally see at Christmas”, said Sampson.
Viewing of Barb-reported channels – which doesn’t include unidentified viewing: the SVoDs such as Netflix; gaming; YouTube; or overseas satellite channels – has risen by 18%.
The UK is being tested as never before in peacetime – and in an age when communication is immediate and uncontrollable and diffuse. But, if the nation does come together and get through the challenges of Covid-19, it will have done so with the help of the most traditional forms of public service broadcasting (PSB).