Following the confirmation from the Government that lockdown will be extended for a further three weeks, we can be sure that the consumer habits and trends that we’ve seen over the last month or so will become further embedded.

TV – Younger audiences continue to increase at a faster rate than older

Consolidated reach numbers show a further increase w/c 23rd March: linear TV reached 50.1% of 1634 Adults, (vs. 48.3% the week prior). For older audiences, the rate of increase is slightly slower with 85.3% reach of 55+, (vs. 84% the week before).

Whilst viewing is up, younger audiences are doing particularly well which has benefitted Channel 4.   W/c 23rd March was its biggest week ever, with a total of 34.2m viewers watching during the week. The return of comedy Friday Night Dinner on the 27th March saw 2.4 million viewers watching live or on the same day, with a 60% increase at consolidation – up to a total of 3.8 million viewers. 

Over on ITV, the scheduled Grand National was replaced by an AI simulation. Bookies created odds for the race, which was run based on an algorithm, and it played out live on TV. While the figures didn’t match up to the 7m viewers for the real thing in 2019, 4m viewers tuned in to watch, the largest single broadcast on TV at the time.

The biggest single broadcast of week 4 was the Queen’s speech, on Sunday at 8pm. Transmitting across multiple channels at once, a total of 23.97m viewers watched on overnight figures, with the majority watching on BBC1 (14m followed by 5m on ITV1). The 5-minute speech was also shown across Channels 4, 5, BBC and Sky News, but didn’t beat the figures of Boris Johnson’s address to the country on the 23rd March, which was seen by 27 million viewers.

Meanwhile, from a broadcaster’s perspective, they are trying harder than ever to win new audiences.

ITV launched a new three-part drama, Quiz, on Easter Monday at 9pm, going head-to-head with BBC drama The Nest. ITV edged ahead with just over 5m viewers vs 4.7m on the BBC. The viewings for the further two episodes of Quiz increased, with the final episode reaching 5.6m viewers. Almost 27% share of viewing growing each day. This increase in viewing, coupled with the more challenging economic climate, has encouraged greater flexibility in booking deadlines across April and May. Brands are entering the market with additional spends to take advantage of both the flexibility and access to added value opportunities, on top of the existing deflation in the market. These packages cover both TV and VOD – with record levels of viewing across their online platforms, broadcasters are ensuring they incentivise spend across both live and catch up content.

Broadcasters are also creating new content to support social distancing across the UK. On Friday 10th April, C4 launched their latest #StayAtHome campaign with several short clips featuring a whole host of C4 favourites and a witty advert inviting audiences to use their bums for good by sitting on the sofa — specifically targeting harder to reach young male audiences. While ITV continue to support the #ClapForOurCarers and have partnered with NHS Charities Together to launch ‘The Million Claps’ campaign on This Morning, with a full advert shown on the evening of Thursday 16th April ahead of the channel’s #ClapForOurCarers moment.

“Looking at individual channel performance, older, more up-market audiences are moving towards ITV while younger audiences are switching to C4 and Sky. “

Audio — Stations updating editorial while widening support for charities

Since the COVID-19 outbreak. several stations have changed their editorial to reflect the current climate and are getting involved with charities such as the NHS Charities and WHO.

  • The Hits is running a ‘hero hour’ twice every weekday, to celebrate the key workers who are keeping the country going.
  • Capital FM are bringing listeners experience to air through texts and calls, and creating virtual house party playlists.
  • Radio X are inviting listeners to take part in isolation games to win prizes.

“In general, we are seeing increases in both reach and hours spent listening to audio each day. “

Print – Newsbrands step up to support

It’s no surprise that in the last four weeks, every major publisher has reported an increase in website visits and page views. Research studies have shown that reader engagement with individual articles has increased. The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said trusted news outlets are a ‘fourth emergency service’. By Friday 17th April, every news outlet had been branded with the ‘Stay at Home’ message.

The Evening Standard ‘Feed London’ and Independent campaign has already raised £1m, whilst The Sun has been championing NHS workers in the lead up to their ‘Sun Who Cares Wins NHS Awards’.

Publishers have been adapting quickly to the challenge, creating new digital platforms such as live blogs and evolving their content.

“News outlets are not only crucial for trusted news and holding the Government to account, but they provide a vital role in the UK of bringing communities together and raising money for amazing causes.”

Digital Display – Online giants support smaller businesses

In a joint statement, tech giants Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Linkedin said that they would ensure people could stay connected, and fight misinformation. Various programmes have also launched to support small businesses, with Facebook launching an £80m global small business programme, and Google creating a £640m fund. Verizon Media has donated £8m in advertising, particularly focusing on mental health groups.

Our partners are also challenging themselves to evolve their product offering. Blis have responded to the challenge of reaching consumers at home – Habits at Home will reach people at home based on their previous location behaviours.

“Increased internet usage reported by broadband providers corelates directly with what our partners are seeing. Openreach reported a 20% increase in daytime usage over the lockdown period. Some of this is due to people working from home, but these weekday daytime traffic spikes are being seen by all publishers. Most are seeing increases of traffic throughout day of between 20 – 30%.”

OOH – Using Platforms for Good

Since social distancing was put into place, it was clear OOH would be drastically affected. Most partners have chosen to use their digital canvases for good causes and messages of hope. #ClapforOurCarers has gone out across the majority of OOH platforms at 8pm every Thursday. OCEAN have been promoting 15 charities who have been hit by COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite reduced audience numbers, brands have been producing OOH activations to create impact. Paddy Power have managed to strike the balance between their on-brand tongue-in-cheek tone with important messaging around social distancing.

“As one OOH partner put it, for the first time in history, we’re telling people to not go out of home!”

eCommerce- COVID-19 expected to speed up long-term shift to eCommerce

It’s clear that long-term shopping habits will change due to COVID-19. A report by Kantar across the UK, Germany and France highlights that the number of consumers who make more than 50% of purchases online has increased by 25% since March. Six in ten consumers are committed to remaining at this level once the pandemic has passed. Spending on essential items has been prioritised, but clothing and home electronics are the two categories expected to bounce back – with 50-60% of respondents saying they plan to make purchases in these two categories later in the year.

Amazon is continuing to restrict their own ordering from vendors to essential items and items in high demand. Consumers can still buy products on-site but there are delays and stocking restrictions.

“Online shopping is still in growth despite 46% of people being worried about the impact of the pandemic on their personal finances.”

Paid Social – Platform usage continues to grow but trust in content remains low

The Global Web Index COVID-19 tracker continues to chart the rise of social media usage in the UK, with 44% of WoW respondents saying that they have spent more time on a social platform in the last seven days. There has been pronounced growth within the 55+ age range on Facebook in particular, with 30% of users in this age bracket spending more time on social media.

Despite the level of growth, there continues to be a trust issue with content shared on the platforms, with 47% using social media to keep up to date. Facebook and Twitter have both created areas on their platforms to share official guidance, as well as the latest news from trusted sources.

“The demand for live content continues with a week on week increase of 20% in interactions with posts that are live on platforms such as Instagram Live.”

Search – Google sharing mobility data to support social distancing

Search is usually a great way to determine what the general public are thinking as they turn to Google for advice. The top ‘how to’ query was ‘how to make a face mask with ties?’ according to Google Trends, following the coverage last week around face masks.

Google’s two stated goals during this time are to help people find authoritative information and to support the global community. They have been supporting these ambitions via their mobility reports, using data from Google Maps. Published on a weekly basis, it aims to help health officials understand responses to social distancing guidance. Last week, it reported:

  • -82% less people visiting retail and recreation stores
  • -41% less people visiting grocery and pharmacy stores
  • -29% less people visiting parks
  • -54% less people visiting work
  • -70% less visiting public transport stations
  • +15% more people staying in residential areas

If you would like to speak to our experts at Wavemaker North about any of these channels and platforms during these unprecedented times, you can email us on