As the government declares its intention to remove all remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England tomorrow, new data reveals that Brits significantly increased their use of livestreaming and video calling apps to share important life events – or ‘milestone moments’ – during the countrywide lockdowns, and intend to keep doing so even now that restrictions are coming to an end.
During the pandemic, one in ten Brits attended a wedding over livestream, 13% have celebrated a birthday and 12% have attended a funeral remotely. 6% of Brits have even witnessed a birth over livestream – this jumps up to 12% for 18–24-year-olds, and 14% for Edinburgh residents. Of the quarter (24%) of Brits who attended a gender reveal party, 30% attended remotely.
The representative survey of 2,023 UK adult consumers, conducted by mobile network benchmarking company Global Wireless Solutions (GWS), demonstrates a clear resilience in the trend towards hybrid events.
However, there is a clear generational divide when it comes to attending milestone moments via livestream, with 18-24s most likely to say they have attended any kind of personal event via livestream, and over 55s the least likely to say so. The single exception to this trend is attendance of funerals: 13% of over 55s attended a funeral virtually compared to 12% of 18-24 year olds.
Men are significantly more likely than women to say they have attended milestone moments remotely during the pandemic. Of the Brits who attended a wedding during the pandemic, 31% attended remotely and 68% of those were men. Similarly, 36% of those who attended an engagement party did so remotely and, once again, 71% of them were men.
So what happens now restrictions are coming to an end? It looks as though, similar to the world of work, our personal lives are set to take on a hybrid mix of digital and in-person events. More than 1 in 10 people plan to attend birthdays and funerals remotely in the coming year; weddings are the most likely to be attended remotely, with just over two-fifths of people (41%) suggesting they would attend a wedding virtually if invited. Remote graduations also remain within the plans of many: over half (54%) of those with a graduation on the horizon say that they plan to attend virtually.
Significant disparities appeared in the livestreaming experience depending on network that was being used. O2 customers appear to be best-served, with over half (51%) encountering no issues at all when livestreaming from their mobile phone (only 37% of Three Mobile customers and 42% for both EE and Vodafone customers said the same). Of the eight specific livestreaming issues GWS asked about, Vodafone had the most complaints in four out of the eight issues, Three in three, EE in one and O2 in zero.
Says Paul Carter, CEO, Global Wireless Solutions:
“Consumers are increasingly recognising the extraordinary benefits of next-generation, super reliable mobile networks. It is reassuring that even through the isolation so many of us felt through Covid lockdowns and restrictions, technology exists that could bring us back together.
“Virtual celebrations may not ever replace the feeling of connecting with loved ones in person, but it can provide many more people with the power to share in moments that they would otherwise miss. It is to the credit of strong mobile connectivity that we have reached this stage. The next step must be to cement the incredible gains 5G has made within the UK and scale the final few hurdles of the deployment process.”