What's in store for digital devices and the UK media landscape?

The growing digitalisation of our lives not only impacts work, education, and socialising, but has for a while now included media consumption. Music, the podcast boom, gaming, bingeing television series - each entertainment moment is filtered through a digital device. And with improvements in connectivity through faster broadband speeds, in more places, and new generations of wireless telecommunications technology (like 5G and WiFi 6), digital media consumption is set to only increase. 

Indeed, the recent BBC Annual Plan highlighted the significant increase in demand for iPlayer and BBC Sounds. Throw in the BBC’s website, linear channels, social media presence, it’s not surprising that the BBC is roughly 24% of all UK video, audio and online time spent by the average adult in a week - including YouTube, social media, general browsing, shopping and search. By contrast, Netflix is around 3% of that time. 

Recent research by GlobalData suggests that by 2024, the total number of streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) subscriptions is expected to rise from 22.4 million to 44.6 million in the UK. This growth is also reflected in market revenue which is predicted to also double from £1.5 billion in 2019 to £3 billion in 2024. Certainly, this increase reflects a more diverse streaming market and the onset of new platforms such as Disney+, HBO Max and Britbox. Convergence will also play a part. But what else will facilitate this growth?

Interoperability, security, compliance

There have been numerous accounts and insights on the impact of COVID-19 in reorienting the concept of the home in everyone’s lives in 2020. Indeed, before the pandemic, research by Aviva found that the average number of connected appliances per UK home has increased by 26% in the last three years, and that the average UK home now has 10.3 internet-enabled devices. During the lockdown, access to functioning digital devices — and indeed broadband — was vital for families. To serve the millions of SVOD subscriptions in coming years, the importance of interoperable, secure and ESG-compliant devices will only increase for both consumers and device manufacturers. 

A vibrant creative industry in the UK 

Underpinning the use of digital devices is, of course, the UK’s leading creative industries and media landscape. This country is home to some innovative firsts that have already become the norm, and with advances in AR/VR and 5G technology as an example, not only will media consumption increase, but also diversify into numerous channels. For the post-COVID economic recovery, efforts to restart the culture industry safely are already underway with the new DCMS Cultural Renewal Taskforce and initiatives like the Future Tech Trade Strategy will ensure international investment is attracted to the UK’s tech sector. Similarly, broadcast and media policy must ensure that for both consumers and industry, the UK is open to disruption and further innovation.

  • Sophie James

    Sophie James

    Programme Manager | Communications Infrastructure and Services
    T 020 7331 2038
  • Craig Melson

    Craig Melson

    Head of Digital Devices, Consumer Electronics and Environment and Sustainability
    T 020 7331 2172

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