Can the Royal Family save British TV as people turn to Netflix?

A report from Ofcom reveals that viewership in the UK is declining. But ratings reveal that the Royal Family might be the solution …

Can the Royal Family save British TV as people turn to Netflix?
© Samir Hussein / GETTY IMAGES
Can the Royal Family save British TV as people turn to Netflix?

Ofcom, the media regulator, has come out with a new report that gives a grim picture of the state of British TV.

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According to Ofcom, the trend which started a few years ago that sees viewers moving from traditional TV towards streaming platforms is still ongoing. More than that, it continues to have a bigger impact on viewership.

There are significant differences in this report from the previous ones, especially about the age of the people walking away from their TV screens. But one solution seems to emerge and it’s quite surprising.

Older people are turning to Netflix

This new report from Ofcom has put forward something new that is worrying for British television. According to them, while until now older people (65+) were still attached to their screens, it appears that they have succumbed to the charm of streaming giants like Netflix or Disney+.

The Guardian writes:

As a result, the proportion of people watching any traditional TV broadcast in a given week has declined from 83% in 2021 to 79% in 2022, the sharpest fall on record

The number of younger people watching TV is even lower but that isn’t surprising as they are the main target of streaming services.

However, something else the report shows, that is linked to older people shying away from tradition TV, is the drop in ratings for the evening news bulletins and popular soaps such as EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. It also appears that viewers in general, no matter the age bracket, are spending way less time tuned in. The report gives a very specific number: ‘two hours spent watching traditional live television broadcasts

The rest of Britain’s screen time is dedicated to social media and streaming.

The report concludes with a bit of hope:

But despite this, public service broadcasters are still unrivalled in bringing the nation together at important cultural and sporting moments, while their on-demand players are seeing positive growth

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Royal Family events among the highest ratings

While the Royal Family is often criticised for costing a lot of money, this time it could be part of the solution. Indeed, while viewers may be walking away from fiction and traditional TV shows, royal events still attract and glue viewers to their screens. Indeed, they are the programs that bring ‘the nation together’ as Ofcom says.

According to the media regulator and the BBC, two royal events have placed in the top three of ‘most-watched programmes in the UK in 2022.’ These events were the state funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II (part 2) and The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Both those programmes attracted over 13 million viewers.

The only thing performing better than that is the Fifa World Cup, when England played against France in the quarter finals. Coming back to the Royal Family, 2023 is sure to help British TV again. Maybe even more so.

Indeed, King Charles III’s coronation took place in May and it attracted, according to The Guardian, ‘an audience of 20 million Britons.’ That is without counting the international viewers who tune in for every royal event.

So while the Royal Family does cost money to British people, they also bring things to them and to the country in general.

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BBC: UK traditional TV viewing sees record decline, Ofcom report says

The Guardian: British TV viewing in decline as older audiences join shift to streaming

The Guardian: King Charles’s coronation watched by peak TV audience of 20m

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