Medialab COVID Tracker | 26.03.20

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For the nation, this is an unprecedented moment. None of us could have predicted the disruption. The working from home, schooling from home, the distancing and isolation from friends and loved ones. At times it can feel overwhelming.

At Medialab we believe strong organisations will emerge stronger. And though it’s hard, investing now in relationships with valuable customers, members, donors and subscribers will boost recovery in the future. Key to this is communicating with empathy about products and services that are practically relevant to now. And clearly, not getting it wrong.

There’s simply too much information out there for any one of us to read, so we have pulled together some of the insight we have seen and found, giving a very topline view.

Of course, these are changing times. We will be updating this as we get new data. For now, we have looked at the changes to audience’s media consumption across channel.


TV is a significant opportunity today and for the foreseeable few months.  The TV audience is growing significantly across all dayparts and the majority of audiences driven purely (and not surprisingly) by the social and travel restrictions encouraged across the UK.  ITV’s daytime audience has increased by 28% in just one week. However, those same restrictions and retail closures have led to significant number of TV advertisers leave the TV marketplace either with cancellation or deferment.  This has led to revenue decline estimates in April of 30%.  This over-supply of audience and lack of demand of advertisers has created significant price deflation in the market.  This provides the opportunity to upweight or to enter the market at significantly lower capital cost.


Radio is a significant opportunity as listening in the short term is growing.  Total digital listening hours have increased 8% week on week with some stations reporting increases in excess of 30%.  Radio also remains a medium driven by a low CPT, immediate scale and total flexibility across regions, audiences, DOW and day parts. Interestingly, the radio industry’s audience measurement tool, RAJAR is based on quarterly field work (house to house written surveys) conducted several months prior to its release.  This measurement system may be affected by the impact of self-isolation.


The print marketplace has certainly been hit significantly from a revenue perspective in the short term as significant, consistent brand spenders cancel or defer. All major publisher websites have also seen a significant increase on web traffic, driven by coronavirus news but reflected across all major sectors, and increased time spent on site.  Growth is also seen across younger and older demographs.  Publishers are adapting in different ways to engage and inform their readership.


There is no doubt that Facebook is a key platform now and moving forwards and there has been a reported increase of around 20% in Facebook activity (users on site) as well as a sharp increase in people using Facebook Messenger. 25% of people in the UK are checking more frequently than normal.


Revenue in the OOH market has collapsed in April and May with a significant number of advertisers cancelling or deferring activity.  This started with the wider movement of those advertisers from all channels reflective of the impact on them and their sector by coronavirus.  A major part of OOH’s success is its ability to deliver a road, high street and commuter audience base.  Clearly the developing “Lockdown” we all face has impacted massively on the potential audience of outdoor and that significantly adds to the challenge the sector is facing.


SVOD services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and the newly launched Disney Plus (five million downloads in Europe on 24/3), are clearly doing well. Amid this spike in demand, they are generally lowering video fidelity to handle high traffic.


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