Virgin Media O2 reveals Brits’ connectivity, digital and TV habits of 2023

Broadband, News, TV

Virgin Media O2 has today released its ‘Year in Review’ – a deep dive of trends, habits and behaviours across its broadband, mobile and TV services. It reveals that 2023 saw usage records smashed, the King’s Coronation topping the TV charts and Wednesday emerging as the most popular office day.

The pandemic and Covid restrictions might be a thing of the past for some, but its impact on how Brits are now navigating the digital landscape has resulted in record-breaking levels of data consumption year-on-year.

Broadband: WFH, online gaming and streaming live sport sees record year

Virgin Media O2 has seen a 13% increase in data consumption on its broadband network in 2023 compared to the previous year. The busiest download peak was calculated between 8-10pm on Wednesday 6 December which coincided with Prime Video screening six live Premier League matches and the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III Season One as well as the release of its latest Warzone map.

Online gaming and the regular need for gamers to download large files and updates is one of the biggest contributors to frequent data records on Virgin Media O2’s broadband network. Seven of the top 10 busiest days on record have occurred in 2023 and have all been influenced by gaming titles such as Call of Duty, Fortnite, Starfield and The Witcher.

Working from home (WFH) is another key driver for data consumption, and it’s clear that many are still opting for remote working with a 14% increase in broadband traffic between the traditional working hours of 8:00-17:00 (Mon-Fri) in 2023 compared to 2022.

Mobile: Use of mobile apps continues to rise, Facebook most popular app

O2 mobile users’ reliance on their mobile phones has never been greater, with the use of mobile apps and data increasing by 26% in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Facebook has come out on top of the apps, making up for one-fifth of all application data consumed on O2’s mobile network and almost double that of the next most popular app, YouTube. TikTok and Netflix followed behind in the rankings.

Live sport clearly gets people reaching for their phones: not only to stream matches but also to message friends. During the round of UEFA Champions League group stage fixtures on the evening of September 19, data usage on O2’s mobile network surged, making it the busiest hour on the network throughout 2023.

And it seems the North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham on January 15 drove conversation, coinciding with the busiest hour for voice calls on O2’s mobile network.

TV: Brits gather around the TV for Strictly Come Dancing and the King’s Coronation 

Brits are still a nation of TV lovers and have been soaking up some of the biggest TV moments of 2023. Strictly Come Dancing, which has been a staple of Saturday evening entertainment for the past decade, was the most-watched TV series of the year followed by I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, Eurovision, Glastonbury, Happy Valley and others.

The King’s Coronation, which took place on May 6, was the most-watched standalone show of the year. The Champions League Final between Manchester City and Inter Milan contributed to the largest Pay TV audience of the year with nearly a quarter of Virgin TV households watching the game on set-top boxes.

The viewing habits of Virgin Media TV customers continue to evolve year-on-year as app usage surges. The use of popular streaming apps such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ rose by 3% compared to last year. In total, 90% of customers engaged with and watched apps on their set-top box in 2023.

BBC iPlayer remains the most popular app for Virgin Media TV customers, with 72% engaging with the platform followed by Netflix (52%) in second place and YouTube (50%) in third.

O2 Motion: Wednesday revealed as most popular working day in the office, shoppers return to high street

According to exclusive insights from O2 Motion, which uses anonymised and aggregated data from O2’s mobile network, Wednesday is the most popular day to go to the office.

The next busiest day is Tuesday and, although Virgin Media O2’s broadband network showed that working from home is still popular among many workers, from autumn of this year, the majority of the public were back to four days at their place of work per week.

In retail, 2023 also marked the return of high-street shopping. Despite footfall dropping by 5% over the summer months, overall high street shopping has been on par with, or even surpassing, trips to shopping centres. Outside of the usual Christmas shopping period, May and September saw peak trips for people hitting the high street.

The data further shows that while people of all ages have been out shopping, shopping sprees among 18 to 24-year-olds peaked in May with an 11.8% growth in retail trips. The next big jump in shopping occurred in September as 35 to 54-year-olds went back to shops, likely to stock up on back-to-school and university items.

Says Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2:

“In what has been another bumper year, we continue to invest and innovate to provide vital connectivity and entertainment for our customers. Seven of our top 10 record days for broadband network usage occurred in 2023, fuelled by working from home and online gaming, while our mobile data usage increased by a quarter.

“Our customers’ ever-growing appetite for data demonstrates the key role we play in people’s lives and highlights why we need to keep investing and improving our products and services to ensure we match this growing demand. If history teaches us anything, it’s that 2024 is set to be another busy, connectivity-hungry year for our customers who continue to use our services more than ever.”

Chris Price
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