Today, we are publishing updated figures showing children’s exposure to age-restricted TV ads, namely ads for alcohol and gambling, in 2020.
The extraordinary developments in 2020 have meant significant changes to our daily routines and behaviours. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and Government imposed restrictions, including periods of lockdown, the majority of the population found themselves spending more time at home, and home entertainment became an ever more essential part of ‘leisure’ time.
In October 2020, we published a report, Covid-19: Trends in Advertising, which presented an analysis of trends in TV viewing and exposure to TV ads for various product categories during a 7-week period from 16 March 2020 (date on which Government advised people to start working from home where possible and avoid social venues) to 3 May 2020 (the UK entered into the first national lockdown on 23 March). The report indicated that during this brief and unprecedented period:
- Exposure to alcohol ads increased during the lockdown period
- Children’s exposure to these ads continued to average less than 1 ad per week
- Exposure to gambling ads also increased during lockdown, compared with the period prior to lockdown
- Children’s exposure to gambling ads increased from 2.5 ads per week during the period prior to the 7 weeks observed to 4.0 ads per week during the period observed, largely as a result of increased Bingo and Lottery ad exposure.
Our latest report on children’s exposure to age-restricted TV ads indicates that children’s exposure to all TV ads continues to decline in 2020 and is likely to be driven by a continuing decline in TV viewing amongst children, accelerated by behavioural changes as a result of Covid-19. Ofcom research Children and parents: media use and attitudes report 2020/21 indicated that whilst the use of all video-on-demand services (VoD) increased in 2020, nine in ten children aged between 5 to 15 years watched TV programmes through paid for/subscription video-on-demand services, compared to around half of 5 to 15 year olds who watched advertising-based VoD or broadcaster VoD services. The Ofcom report also found that 97% of children aged between 5 to 15 years consumed content via video sharing platforms (VSPs) in 2020; seven in ten children aged 8-15 said they had used VSPs more during the Covid-19 pandemic than before.
Notwithstanding our earlier findings for the period entering into the first national lockdown*, the 2020 update to our annual TV ad exposure reporting indicates that children’s average weekly exposure to TV ads for alcohol and gambling has not significantly increased from 2019, and continues to trend downward or has remained stable in recent years. Children’s exposure to alcohol TV ads had reached its lowest level in 2020 during the 13-year period observed; the decline in children’s exposure to alcohol on TV ads is falling at a faster rate than their exposure to all TV ads. Children’s exposure to gambling ads on TV has remained fairly stable over the 13-year period and at lower levels over the past five years. Some of the key findings from the 2020 analysis are:
- Alcohol - Between 2008 and 2020, children’s exposure to alcohol advertising on TV decreased by just over two thirds, from an average of 2.8 ads per week in 2008 to 0.9 ads per week in 2020, the lowest in the 13-year period observed.
- Gambling - Between 2008 and 2020, children’s exposure to gambling ads increased by just under a quarter from an average in 2008 of 2.2 ads per week to 2.8 ads per week in 2020. Children’s exposure to gambling ads has remained fairly stable and at lower levels over the past five years.
- All TV ads - Between 2008 and 2020, children’s exposure to all TV ads halved (falling by 52.8%), from 219.5 ads per week in 2008 to 103.7 ads per week in 2020, the lowest in the 13-year period.
The number of TV ads seen by children has continued to decline at a steady rate since the peak in 2013, at an average of 229.3 ads per week, and have reduced by just over half, at 103.7 ads per week in 2020. Over the same period, children’s exposure to:
- TV alcohol ads decreased by two thirds;
- TV gambling ads decreased by just over a third.
This suggests that children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol is falling at a faster rate than their exposure to all TV ads. While the rate of decline in children’s exposure to gambling ads on TV is marginally lower than the rate of decrease in exposure to all TV ads, children’s exposure to gambling ads has remained at a lower level since the 2013 peak.
Read our full report now.