Online Activity surges forward and set to continue - Research

Broadband usage has soared across Ireland since the pandemic began and this will continue as more and more people follow a newly ‘blended’ lifestyle including hybrid working and increased use of digital services from home and on the move, according to new research commissioned by Virgin Media Ireland and conducted independently by Amárach Research.


The Virgin Media research surveyed over 1,200 people aged 18 and over across all regions of the country. With up to 11 devices now connected to the Internet in every home, people rate broadband unsurprisingly as their most essential service after electricity and water.


The importance of high-speed broadband is constantly increasing, with people now far more engaged in online activity than ever before, which is set to continue. 


·       During the pandemic 44% of people increased their amount of streaming. As we begin to exit lockdown, 7 in 10 people say they’ll watch the same or more Netflix content.


·       Currently, 40% of people say they use broadband to watch between 2 - 5 hours daily watching a variety of streaming video services.


·       On average, 25% of all respondents said they’re using broadband to watch video streaming services more than ever before, including Netflix, YouTube & Amazon Prime, while 20% said they’re watching more video content on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.


  • In a clear sign of online activity leading to changing consumer behaviour, nearly 1/3 of respondents said they had started listening to more podcasts and Spotify during lockdown with 9 out of 10 people saying they’ll continue to listen to the same amount or more after lockdown.


·       With Zoom meetings and online video calls keeping people connected with their family and friends during lockdown, half of all respondents said they’re still ‘Zooming’ for social gatherings (not work related), and overall, 40% of us are doing this more than ever before.


·       4 in 10 people said they have recently published content online, from making and sharing a video, podcast, music recording or other activity, and among those who haven’t, a significant 33% (one-third of respondents) said they’ll do it in the near future.


·       A third of people said they’re reading more books than ever before, both online and offline, with a total 75% saying they regularly enjoy this much loved pastime.


·       50% of people now shop more online than they ever did before the pandemic.  And, with the reopening now taking place, a strong preference has emerged for a continuing blended approach by consumers.


·       Expectations around working behaviours also seem to have changed for good, with 8 in 10 people saying they favour a hybrid working model, spending some days working both at home and in the office.  Respondents said their most favoured split in remote working habits is to work 3 days at home / 2 days in the office (43%) while 15% said they’d prefer that in reverse (2 days at home / 3 in the office).


·       The research also captured a sense of people’s growing ‘need for speed’, where the average stated speed of broadband subscriptions being purchased is over 330MB download and streaming capacity. 20% of respondents said they are availing of broadband services offering speeds between 250 Mbps (megabits per second) and 1 Gbps or higher (gigabits per second).


·       The findings are reflected in Virgin Media’s own network statistics, where the 1GB broadband provider has seen an almost 50% increase in data usage on average per customer across its superfast network which passes 1m homes nationwide.


Paul Higgins, Vice President of Commercial for Virgin Media Ireland said:  “The results of this research reinforces what we’ve seen in everyday life; broadband is a main driver of changing consumer behaviors. During the pandemic, our homes became our offices, schools, gyms and cinemas and while everyone is looking forward to a brighter future as we emerge from lockdown, it’s clear consumers will continue with their increased usage.


“With online video calling now accepted as a great way to stay connected with friends and family, the concept of hybrid office work here to stay for many and consumers discovering new podcasts and music to listen to, the way we use the internet has changed forever.


“This is reflected in our own data with an almost 50% increase usage in May 2021 compared to February last year when, in 2020 as a whole, usage had soared by 80% from 2019. We’re incredibly proud to enable this massive increase in data usage for our customers as they connect to new and different things and with Ireland’s fastest broadband network, we’re ideally placed to help fuel this change in consumer activities.”