[Guest post] Digital Culture Consumer Tracking Study – Week 6 of 6

A few days ago, The IPKat hosted a guest post by Katfriend John Shaw (Blake Morgan), tackling the content of the recent report on 'Digital Culture' prepared by the the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in collaboration with the Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre led by Nesta.

John is now back with another guest post, this time discussing the 6th (and final) wave of the Digital Culture Consumer Tracking Study carried out by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre.

Here's what John writes:

Digital Culture Consumer Tracking Study – Week 6 of 6
by John Shaw

The Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre led by nesta has released the report on wave 6 of its study into the online habits of consumers following the COVID-19 Lockdown. The six waves of the study took place between 9th April and 20th May. The study builds on the IPO’s Online Copyright Infringement (OCI) Tracker Survey which has been carried out annually since 2012. The full wave 6 report is available here.

Access to digital works (and understanding digital copyright) has never been so important. With a number of headlines stating that access to infringing copies of digital content (“illegal sources”) had increased due to the COVID-19 Lockdown, it will be interesting to see whether the same conclusions are reaching in this study.


The level of daily consumption of respondents returned to normal for music and tv, having declined over previous weeks. For film, video games, books, magazines and audiobooks there were no changes compared to previous weeks. TV remained the most popular method of consuming media and purchasing of content remained higher than at the start of the survey in April. Use of illegal sources to access content has only changed marginally.

Wellbeing and Lifestyle

Levels of anxiety have decreased among respondents, as has the number of people self-isolating (due to themselves or someone at home having COVID-19 symptoms) and levels of satisfaction in daily life have increased since the start of the study.


Overall, music listeners spent two and a half hours or more listening to music each day. Downloading music was more prevalent at the start of the study and this declined from week 3 onwards. Music had the highest proportion of respondents who used illegal sources to download although this also decreased from week one (33%) to week six (28%). Use of only illegal methods increased from week one (9%) to weeks four (22%), five (20%) and six (21%). This result is consistent with other studies which have taken place during lockdown, showing that access of copyright infringing material has increased.


Respondents spent on average two and a half hours watching films each day throughout the six weeks. The rate of downloading declined from the start of lockdown but was steady at 15-16% from week four. The most popular method of downloading was by using the “save offline” function available via a paid subscription service. Use of illegal sources became less popular, declining from 24% in week one to 12% by week six. This decline may be due to the lack of new films being released in cinemas. Paid video subscription services were the main source of streaming films, accounting for three quarters of films streamed.


TV had the highest level of consumption of all the categories, even though it had declined since week one. Downloading of TV shows remained consistent following a peak in week two. The greatest number of TV shows downloaded were via a paid subscription service, using the “save offline” function which was similar to film. It was also consistent with film that the use of illegal sources to download TV declined. Paid video subscription services were the main source of accessing video content, increasing up to 74% by week six. Use of TV catch-up services declined over the six-week period, perhaps due to diminishing number of new shows being released.

Not everyone spent
the lockdown playing games:
Angelo's Artito, for instance,
his trade mark exam
Video Games

The average levels of access for video games remained constant at three hours of game play for all six weeks in the survey. Respondents played an average of two games per week (accessed or downloaded) and the number of respondents using illegal sources to access computer games remained relatively low throughout the study. This is consistent with the OCI study findings which shows video games to the category of online content least affected by infringement.


Books had the highest levels of consumption in the e-publishing category, with a median of two hours being spent reading by respondents each day. E-books saw a decline from week one (18%) to week six (12%). Use of illegal sources to access e-books ranged from 10% to 18% during the six-week period. Downloading audiobooks was most popular in week one and declined over the following five weeks. For e-books, digital magazines, and audiobooks there were fluctuations in the use of illegal sources to access content, but no discernible trend. This perhaps indicates that lockdown has not had an impact on attitudes towards illegal sources of e-published material, in the way it perhaps has with music.

Other content consumption

Use of video software on social media continued to decline in the sixth week of the study. The most consistent categories for consuming other content included watching or reading the news online or on TV (90-92%), using video call software to conduct meetings (26-28%), and use of social media to post user content (24%-26%). Over the course of the study the following categories noticed a decline in the share of weekly consumption: view art, paintings and photographs (-25%); online multiplayer games (-20%); online learning platforms (-19%).


The results of this study will be of interest to those involved in digital copyright because some of the findings are not consistent with recent headlines indicating the increase access to infringing material. Many of the forms of content showed an initial or delayed spike in demand at the beginning of the study (including those accessed by illegal sources) followed by a gradual decline, indicating that respondents had settled into habits during lockdown.
[Guest post] Digital Culture Consumer Tracking Study – Week 6 of 6 [Guest post] Digital Culture Consumer Tracking Study – Week 6 of 6 Reviewed by Eleonora Rosati on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 Rating: 5

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