Report finds UK adults spent a third of waking hours watching TV in 2020

Lockdowns saw UK households spend almost six hours a day attached to a screen

A report from communications regulator Ofcom has found that UK adults spent a third of their waking hours watching TV and other streaming services in 2020.

Ofcom’s annual Media Nations Report found that COVID-19 induced lockdowns were a major driver for an increase in screentime, which saw households watching a daily average of five hours and 40 minutes, compared to four hours and 53 minutes the previous year.

The report also found that video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video saw the highest growth, with views almost doubling in 2020 to an estimated one hour and five minutes a day. Subsequently, 80 per cent of households had their TVs connected to the internet, which was more than the number of people with cable TV or satellite.


As for other viewing platforms, YouTube was shown to be the most popular online video service, with people spending roughly 41 minutes a day watching videos. TikTok was also found to have grown in popularity throughout the year, boasting 31 per cent of adult internet users by March 2021.

According to the report, broadcast TV saw a boom in viewers thanks to people tuning in to the news, particularly for COVID-19 related updates. Sports was also a boon for broadcast TV viewership, with the Euro 2020 England versus Italy final amassing an audience of over 22million.

The most popular Netflix show for viewers aged 18-29 was American docu-series Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotelwhile steamy period-drama Bridgerton was a hit for the over 50s.

“TV and online video have proved an important antidote to lockdown life, with people spending a third of their waking hours last year glued to screens for news and entertainment,” Ofcom’s group director for strategy and research, Yih-Choung Teh, said in a statement.

“The pandemic undoubtedly turbo-charged viewing to streaming services, with three in five UK homes now signed up.”


This year welcomed fresh titles such as WandaVision, the Gossip Girl reboot and queer-drama about the HIV/AIDS crisis, It’s A Sin. NME gave the latter five-stars in a review, with the show also being lauded by Elton John as a “triumph of creativity and humanity”.

New seasons of Sex Education, Peaky Blinders, Euphoria and more are also expected this year.