As part of it's latest research into commercial tv, Thinkbox have launched a real time, qualitative study into UK households during the UK Lockdown. Lockdown TV, commissioned by Ipsos MORI, follows 12 UK households all finding themselves living in a strange world at home

As we begin to reflect on the things we took for granted, before we were plunged into lockdown; such as travel, eating out, shopping, sending our kids to school, or even the hustle and bustle of a busy high street - have been put on pause. Our houses have transformed into our offices, our schools, and now the hub any social life we have left. But as we put the breaks on our busy schedules and unreliable commutes, we are being given more time to spend with our families, discovering news ways to keep in touch with loved ones and share experiences.

To help us understand these changes, Lockdown TV will examine 12 households across the UK as their routines, needs and viewing habits change every week.

In fact, the volume of TV viewing has jumped 24% since the UK Lockdown began (March 23rd).

New findings will be released by Thinkbox periodically, so stay tuned.

Read more on Thinkbox

What did they find?

The research highlighted six key themes, and within those themes we can begin to build a picture of the role TV has in people's lives during this difficult time, and where we can add value. 


47% Programmes have seen up to 47% in shared family viewing

124% Viewing of TV news content has significantly increased

30% Programmes are taking viewers back to happier times with up to 30% watching old shows

Uniting households and family 

TV has always played a vital role in bringing households together, whether it's for Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, an intense mid-week football match or a film to get us on the edge of our couches. Now, more than ever, TV is providing a valued shared experience; with BARB data showing us that shared TV viewing has grown by 37% since lockdown began, versus a 15% increase in watching TV alone. Programmes that have seen significant jumps in shared family viewing include Channel 4’s Gogglebox (up 41%), In for a Penny on ITV (up 47%) and Wild Britain on Five (up 19%).


Creating new routines

Before lockdown, many of us were leading seperate lives within our homes. TV is now drawing us together to develop new and shared routines. From shared households having time for movie nights, families revisiting classic comedies, to dads watching cookery shows with the kids for new culinary inspirations, TV is providing an appreciated anchor for this new way of living.

For those living alone, TV offers an equally valued way of structuring the day and providing company and distraction during a difficult time.


Newfound news junkies

TV programming isn't the only outlet having an important role in people's lives, as the COVID-19 crisis grips the world, people look for content to keep them informed. Viewing of TV news content increased by 124% during the first three weeks of lockdown, according to BARB. In a world cluttered with misleading facts and fake news, TV is very much seen as a credible, trusted news source with integrity. Many participants mentioned checking social media regularly during lockdown, most were mistrustful of news on social media platforms.

The news and the blues

In contrast for the surge of news, staying informed about the current crisis is increasingly seen as a ‘necessary evil’. Although we crave to be kept up-to-date, there is also a climbing anxiety around too much information - with parents particularly conscious of how this may be impacting their kids’ wellbeing and mental health.

In a bid to combat that anxiety, particpants revealed they try tuning in at certain times of the day, such as early morning or for the government briefings, to keep the rest of the day clear for more positive content.  Others are leaning towards other more digestible topical formats such as Good Morning Britain and This Morning, that cover the news with integrity, balanced with entertainment.


Comfort and creativity in compromise

The appetite for viewing that promotes togetherness has naturally increased.  Families are choosing content that has universal appeal for all household members such as Friends or light entertainment like Saturday Night Takeaway. Households are also exploring programmes they wouldn’t have usually have watched before, such as the extensive hours of Game of Thrones or cookery shows where everything can now come into practice.


The need for nostalgia

Nostalgic viewing has seen a resurgence since lockdown.  The respondents talked at length about the need to ‘escape from reality’ through light-hearted TV programming that takes them back to happier times, with this has being reflected in the viewing numbers. Only Fools and Horses on Gold is up 20% since last year and Last of the Summer Wine on Drama is up 30% versus 2019. All increases since the lockdown began.

For sports fans, who are having to fill a significant void in their TV diet, classic matches on Sky and BT Sport are helping to plug the gap and raise the spirits.

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What does this mean for advertisers?

  • Viewers are watching content together that inspires ‘doing’ – cooking, crafting, exercise – genres of content that they hadn’t considered before. Brands fitting these categories have an opportunity to build contextual brand awareness through advertising.

  • TV is not only a source of comfort at the moment, but also trust and truthfulness. While viewers are looking for reliability, this is a great opportunity to build a relationship with consumers and form brand loyalty. Advertisers should make sure they’re authentic, contextual, and respectful to the situation.

  • Many are spending evenings watching films with their family, planning ads around family classics or nostalgic content during this time could deliver high returns.

  • Sports fans are looking for a replacement. While classic games are filling a void, big TV events are being produced to simulate the atmosphere of a sport event, and tongue-in-cheek content is emerging to open up placeholder genres or hobbies to a wider audience - all of which could allow for some clever sponsorship opportunities.

Want to talk about how you can reach your audience through TV?

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