The Queen addressed the nation for the first time since 2012 (excluding Christmas Day), with TV being the platform of choice.
Excluding annual Christmas broadcasts to the nation, the Queen addressed the nation on Sunday night for the first time since 2012 (Diamond jubilee). In fact, it was only the fifth time in her 68 year reign that the occasion demanded such an address, demonstrating the ongoing and elevating concern created by coronavirus.
To highlight this further, the pre-recorded message was unusually broadcast on all “terrestrial” channels simultaneously, with BBC One, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 sharing a combined live audience of c.24m (overnight data, not yet consolidated). That equated to over 75% of linear TV viewers between 20:00-20:05. Unsurprisingly, it was the BBC who took the largest share of audience with c.14m, followed by ITV (c.5m), Channel 4 (c.2.5m) with Channel 5, Sky News and BBC News contributing the rest of the audience. The total dwarfs the previous #1 broadcast of 2020, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway which peaked at 11.1m viewers on 21st March. It also now takes its place as one of the most watched broadcasts in UK history. Whilst in an age when TV has been in the decline it does not compete with the 1966 World Cup Final (32.3m), it does compare favourably with the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony (24.5m), and even surpasses William and Kate’s wedding (22.8m).
So is the pandemic helping TV to regain this mantle as the monarch of media? As has been an enduring theme during the lockdown imposed by the pandemic, TV continues to be the medium of choice for delivering messages to the nation. Linear TV viewing continues to spike daily at 17:00 as large swathes of the population tune into government briefings. In an age of Fake News circulated primarily by Digital means (although it must be said not exclusively), TV is building trust as the primary source of information for many.
But how long will, and should, this be the case? How long until we see addresses of this importance simulcast on YouTube, Facebook and other platforms (outside of official Royal Family social media channels)? Linear TV audiences have been in decline for years, with many important groups of society preferring content platforms. In these unprecedented times, there has also been a lot of criticism for young people “flouting” the rules imposed on everyone by the pandemic. And whilst government advice is seemingly hard to avoid, is it possible that these messages are not being delivered to them consistently enough? If so, how should the government be tackling these harder to reach audiences? This is something we will address in a post later this week, so continue to check back for more regular updates.