Brits Turn To Trusted Media During COVID-19 Lockdown

There is a lot of talk about what COVID-19 means for the future of advertising and marketing, but right here and now, we can already see the major shift it is already causing.

As the latest figures from Havas Media Group show, there is a doubling down of attention on familiar sources. In fact, the big winners here appear to be the rather interesting mix of the BBC, The Sun and Daily Mail, which are all seeing significant upticks in audience numbers. 

Around two in three of us are admitting to watching more television, which is not a particularly surprising figure with so many people finding themselves at home. However, it not just a case of watching more box sets and movies -- the BBC News is experiencing a 16% rise in audience numbers since the pandemic started. The rest of the BBC's entertainment programming is seeing an average of a 15% increase in viewing.

So people are flocking to the television to be entertained and be informed.

It is reassuring that both entertainment and news content are seeing a similar lift.

And for all the knocks the BBC receives -- in my view, unwarranted -- its news output is way out there as the most trusted source on current affairs. This accolade applies to 69% of Brits, a figure that has risen 5% since the COVID-19 outbreak. 

One of the more surprising result of this very interesting research from Havas Media Group is not so much that 5% more people say they are now accessing The Sun for news. No, the real surprise with this tabloid is self-professed readership is up 10% among 18- to-24 year-olds.

That's pretty much akin to saying The Sun is currently enjoying a 10% audience boost among GenZ. I had the paper down as reaching an older audience, in my own mind, but I'm sure News UK is happy I am wrong. 

It could well align with the finding that young, poorly educated people are the worst hit by COVID-19. Those in hospitality, restaurant and bar work will almost certainly now be unemployed or furloughed with more time to spend on media. 

Across all age groups, the Daily Mail is up 5% and The Guardian is up 4%.

The take-out is that Brits are craving news right now, and they're seeking it out from known and trusted sources that do not protect content behind a paywall. 

Surely many people in this survey will be among the near two in three that recently reported to Channel 4 that they have seen COVID-19 misinformation being spread on social. It follows, then, that the best known and most trusted free sources of news online, and on television, should see an upward lift in audience. 

It's reassuring to know that among all the current fake news spreading around COVID-19 that Brits are not hanging out in a basement with tinned foods waiting for armageddon. Instead, they're flocking to professional journalism for updates, not whatever a pal on social decided was worth grabbing attention with. 

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