UK Digital Users 2021

After a Trying Year, Which of Our Digital User Forecasts Changed, Which Changes Will Stick, and Which Won’t?

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About This Report
The pandemic led to many upward revisions of our UK digital user forecasts. Some changes (podcast listeners) will be permanent, while others will be temporary (digital gamers). Our social network user numbers, meanwhile, didn’t change much at all.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

The pandemic led us to revisit our predictions for the number of people in the UK engaging with different digital media activities. For some, there were no real changes, but for others, the ramifications for 2021 onward were significant.

How did the pandemic affect our forecasts?

The majority of digital user metrics we track increased in 2020 as UK consumers sheltered at home. In the coming years, this growth will continue for many activities, though not all. Some will see even faster growth.

Which activities will see accelerated user growth?

For podcast listening, particularly via Spotify, the pandemic was the catalyst for accelerated growth beyond our pre-pandemic forecasts.

Which activities will only get a temporary boost?

A significant bump last year in digital and smartphone gamer figures won’t be maintained, with user numbers reverting to our pre-pandemic forecasts by 2024.

Which activities didn’t, and won’t, see any noticeable change?

Activities like digital and mobile video viewership and social network usage, where user penetration is already high, will struggle to add significant numbers of new users.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report compares our pre- and post-pandemic estimates for four categories (and multiple subcategories) of digital media activities in the UK and outlines reasons for differing trends.

KEY STAT: Our podcast listener forecast for 2020 got a substantial pandemic bump. We revised our 2020 forecast upward from 11.4 million users to 13.3 million—a figure we didn’t expect in our pre-pandemic forecast until 2024.

Here’s what’s in the full report

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6expert perspectives

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    Table of Contents

    1. Executive Summary
    2. Pandemic Effect on User Numbers: 4 Themes for the Coming Years
    3. Digital Video Viewers
    4. Digital Audio Listeners
    1. Digital Gamers
    2. Social Network Users
    3. Key Takeaways
    4. Insider Intelligence Interviews
    1. Read Next
    2. Sources
    3. Media Gallery

    Interviewed for This Report

    Stefanie Briec
    FreeWheel
    Director, Demand Sales, UK and International
    Interviewed February 2, 2021
    Lisa Haskins
    VidMob
    Head of Data and Director, Brand, Marketing, and Operations, EMEA
    Interviewed February 2, 2021
    Michal Marcinik
    AdTonos
    Co-Founder, CEO
    Interviewed February 2, 2021
    Ross Nicol
    Zefr
    Vice President, EMEA
    Interviewed February 2, 2021
    Austin Scott
    Xandr
    Head of Video Market Development, EMEA
    Interviewed February 4, 2021
    Niki Stoker
    A Million Ads
    COO
    Interviewed February 2, 2021

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    authors

    Bill Fisher

    Contributors

    Zach Goldner
    Junior Forecasting Analyst
    Angela Kim
    Senior Researcher
    Peter Newman
    Senior Forecasting Analyst
    Karin von Abrams
    Principal Analyst
    Debra Aho Williamson
    Principal Analyst