The Committee conducted a survey of attitudes to public service broadcasting and subscription video on demand services. The survey was open from 9 June to 9 July 2019 and was promoted on social media.
The survey received 177 responses from people of a range of ages and backgrounds. This was essentially a qualitative exercise designed to elicit responses from a wider group than the Committee was able to see in person. The Committee recognises that participants were self-selecting and that its ability to conduct the survey with methodological rigour was limited as it could not survey a large and representative sample of the public.
A range of people took part in the survey. The age groups with the most respondents were 25–34-year-olds (48 respondents) and those aged 65 and over (41 respondents). Only 12 respondents were aged 14–24. Eighty-one per cent of respondents were white and 13 per cent identified as BAME. Forty-four per cent identified as male and 52 per cent female.
Respondents were asked how often they watched different services. Among all respondents, 75 out of 177 respondents watched the BBC every day. However, this fell to 15 out of 60 among 14–34-year-olds and 4 out of 23 among BAME respondents. The most popular service with both these groups was Netflix: 15 out of 23 BAME respondents and 44 out of 60 14–34-year-olds watched Netflix at least a few times a week, compared with 43 per cent for all respondents. ITV1 and Channel 4 were each viewed by approximately 40 per cent of all respondents at least a few times each week. This fell to approximately 20 per cent for Channel 4 among 14–34-year-olds and BAME viewers.
Respondents across different groups watched a television screen for most of their viewing. Forty-five per cent of all respondents watched more on demand content than linear television. This rose to 41 out of 60 14–34 year-old respondents and 15 out of 23 BAME respondents.
There was relatively little variation between different groups on whether PSBs made programmes relevant to them and reflected modern Britain. Most were positive.
Fifty per cent of respondents who subscribed to an SVOD felt that it offered better value than the licence fee, while 20 per cent said worse. Younger subscribers were more likely to feel that SVODs represented better value for money.
Question 10 asked respondents what they felt made PSBs distinctive. Most agreed that PSBs were distinctive and many cited news and current affairs as the reason for this. Live sport and documentaries were also mentioned by many, as was PSBs’ commitment to representing the UK and its regions. Several respondents criticised reality TV such as The Jeremy Kyle Show and some felt that there were too many repeats on TV. Some criticised PSBs for a lack of diversity. One wrote: “BBC and ITV are incredibly pale and stale to me. It doesn’t reflect my communities, both LGBT and mixed race. Everything reflects and is for white straight older or family audiences I feel.” Another complained that PSBs were producing too much content for younger people which alienated older viewers.
Question 11 asked what programmes on SVODs were most appealing. The range of content, including international and diverse content, was praised, as was their ease of use. Films, drama and entertainment series were most commonly cited. One respondent mentioned drama series which “tend to take greater risks, and be of far greater quality, than original drama programming on the BBC/ITV/Channel 4.” Some felt that one of the strengths of Netflix and Amazon Prime was their programmes which had originally been shown by PSBs. Several said that the main reason they subscribed to an SVOD was that it was cheaper than the licence fee.