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This week, Lockdown Unlocked has been focusing on Entertainment. We first took a look at this back in late April / early May, a month or so after lockdown kicked-in (you can view our headline insights here!). So, how have people’s entertainment needs, attitudes and behaviours shifted since then?

Taken from our qualitative community of 40 consumers, and our 1,000 person nat rep survey, here’s a few of our headline insights.

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#1 The nation as a whole has never felt further from ‘normal’

Optimism of getting back to normal soon is thinning out, with 3 in 4 people still feeling quite far away from normal life. This is the highest this sentiment has ever been felt - and 5% points higher than it was even last month. Interestingly, the older 55+ demographic, as well as people who live in the North, and women are feeling this way in a more exaggerated manner.

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On our qualitative community, we see this trend again, with people having become sceptical about things returning to normal in the near future. Back in the Spring, we saw a lot of faith that we’ll persevere and emerge triumphant before the year was up, but this feeling has now dwindled as we approach Winter. The overall sentiment is a lot more negative now, and many aren’t liking the idea of having to live with Covid for the foreseeable future.

“Now with the numbers rising again we have become more careful and the worrying thing is because three of us work with the public it’s very hard and I can become very anxious. If I’m honest I do become nervous when we are in enclosed areas.”

“Makes me feel rubbish living with Covid longer term, to be honest sick of it, and the long term implications are not good, restrictions on movement, travel, socialising, economy and all... Terrible!”

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#2 While Lockdown 1 was about the best of intentions, lockdown 2 is looking quite different

There was a certain novelty about Lockdown 1 and over half agreed that they were making the best of the situation by taking up hobbies, gardening, reading, baking banana bread, and generally being productive. There was also increased usage of staying in touch with friends and others virtually, and many tried video calling online for the first time back in April. 

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Now in Lockdown 2, this novelty has worn off. Less than half of people agree with the statement that they’re making the best of lockdown, so the mood has really shifted from a wholesome rallying together, to more of a survival mode. 

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Qualitatively, we’ve also seen a change since the first lockdown. In Lockdown 1, people told us about the routines they were putting in place and a general motivation to be healthy and happy, but it’s evident that people are now just feeling fed up and frustrated at the situation. There is no longer any pretence, as people tell us how they plan to spend the winter months bingeing TV shows and films. Home entertainment is king for winter 2020.

“I was much more motivated to read earlier in lockdown. But as time has gone on I think my general motivation is much less than it was... I'm in the house more and the TV is on in the background, so I find it harder to read. I could simply turn off the TV but I tend to get caught up in it.”

And subsequently, people have never felt closer to their service providers. Almost half of the UK population believe they’d be lost without streaming services. A significantly higher statistic than what we saw back in April.

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 “We have relied on it a lot as we had a lot of time on our hands. You can lose yourself in a good film or series and would enjoy it so much and would make me happy and forget the stress of Covid.”

“I have relied on TV and streaming services a fair amount over the last few months to a) keep me connected with the wider world, b) boost my mood, and c) provide a useful distraction from the Covid-19 doom and gloom.”

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 #3 Escapism is top of a long list of needs

Escapism proves the primary objective when looking at people’s entertainment priorities, with just under half stating that it’s in their top three priorities at the moment. But there is a long tail of entertainment priorities too - with many using entertainment as a means to stay upbeat, connect with others, and play catch-up with new and old content.

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On our community we heard that while entertainment is great for relieving boredom, it’s also a necessary tonic to the current climate. People are turning to in-home entertainment services as a way to provide a few hours of relief from the world around them, and interestingly, in this quest for escapism, many have found themselves gravitating to more nostalgic content that takes them back to simpler times.

“To escape and I am stuck with not much else to do. I find that absorbing myself in craft and box sets takes my mind off the s***t show of 2020!!”

“I suppose listening to music is a form of escapism at the moment . It can take you somewhere else & evoke memories of good times which can be important as we enter another lockdown.”

“We have two daughters and three sons pretty much all grown up, but all of them seem to have regressed a little and have been watching films that they watched years ago! I guess that is pure escapism and takes them back.”

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#4 It’s vital for household harmony and provides social currency

Agreeing on what to watch or listen to has never been so important, especially for families and those who are WFH. With few opportunities for IRL and shared experiences, discussing at-home entertainment has become a form of social currency, with nearly half of people saying it has become an increasingly important topic of conversation when speaking with others.

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Qualitatively, we heard how entertainment can be a great way to bring households together, with programs that appeal to both adults and children quickly becoming go-to family favourites. Young adults are getting in on the act too, having to replace OOH events and socialising with watching TV at home with Mum and Dad.

“As a family I feel it brings us together by choosing our favourite programs especially this time of the year we love watching X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing. It brings us together laughing and joking and it’s just a nice atmosphere.” 

 “Watching television has brought our household together, our teenager now watches The Crown with us.”

However, household entertainment is not just important for bonding inside the home. We’ve also seen how discussing TV shows, books and films has become the new conversation starter and a way to socialise with friends. In fact, one person on our community told us how they plan to hold weekly Zoom calls to discuss the latest episodes in a TV series with friends.

“It’s difficult to get everyone to agree because of different tastes. However, I’m very keen on The Crown on Netflix and so are some of the friends. I’m going to watch one episode at a time and discuss this on Zoom with them later this month when the new series starts.”

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#5 But some feel they’ve run out of content

When polled, we saw how just over a third of people are bored of their current forms of entertainment and are craving something new. And even more feel it’s become harder to find inspiration or recommendations to keep themselves entertained. 

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On our community, we saw that while people are incredibly thankful for their in-home entertainment services, and really making the most of them, many are itching for something new. With an increase in binge watching and sofa surfing, we’ve heard from many who feel like they’ve ‘completed Netflix’. They’re tired of watching repeats and are eagerly anticipating the release of new episodes. However, this does mean that any new shows generate even more excitement than they usually would.

“I am getting to a point where I feel I have watched almost every box set & every series so I feel I’m going to need some new episodes… I would like to try reading but I’m just not the type to read. I’m more of a person who watches TV.”

“I'm so glad new series of things I watch are coming out, This Is Us, The Crown, I’m A Celeb!! Means there will be something there to keep me busy.”

We also saw a clear desire for more recommendations. Families in particular told us how they often struggle to choose something that will please everyone, and evenings can be taken up searching for content in vain. Younger families are also calling out for options that everyone can enjoy, as parents are sick of watching kids shows on repeat.

“Having an 18 year old, a 20 year old, their girlfriends and ourselves, it is very difficult... We do try to find a film and spend time searching Netflix, but it usually takes a while to agree and then we end up disappointed.”

“I would love to have more options, to not be sitting watching Spongebob or something endlessly (which can occasionally happen).”

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#6 Many are willing to spend more on home entertainment

As we become ever more reliant on at home entertainment, those who are financially able are becoming increasingly willing to spend on services and products to enhance the experience. Something that has been particularly salient among younger people, those working from home and families.

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 Qualitatively, people told us how they have been signing up to new streaming services and upgrading existing packages in order to have access to a wider variety of shows and films. Similarly, many have bought (or are planning to buy) a new TV as they anticipate their screen time increasing.

However, it’s not all about TV. Speakers have been another popular purchase on our community as people’s listening behaviours increase. A few have told us how they’ve invested in portable speakers, allowing them to take music and podcasts out into the garden or to accompany them on their workout.

“I have spent more money, we added some more channels to our Sky package and my son subscribed to some other TV networks.”

“We are thinking about purchasing a larger TV. I think being stuck indoors due to Covid-19 is making us eager to upgrade our entertainment related kit.”

Lockdown Unlocked is an online qual community with 40 members across the UK, combined with a nat-rep quant tracker of 1,000 UK adults.