Reality Check: virtual activities during lockdown not proving as popular as expected

Only a third of Brits have actually tried an online workout in the past two months

From Shakespearian performances to pub drinks with friends, it seems like you can make any activity virtual nowadays, yet streaming issues may be causing us to shy away from these resources. That’s according to the latest research on ‘How Video is Changing the World’ from leading content delivery provider, Limelight Networks.

Worldwide, 14% of adults are watching 7 or more hours of online video every day – making it an important channel for communication and sharing information.

However, two thirds of Brits (61%) have had technical issues with the online video for virtual events in the past two months. Many of these are linked to difficulties delivering high-quality online video with the speed and convenience UK consumers expect. The most common complaint with online video offerings was internet connectivity problems (36%), followed by videos loading slowly (13%) and poor-quality video (12%).

So, which of the services out there are we really using?

  • Doctor, Doctor: Online doctor’s appointments are not very popular among Brits – 68% of UK respondents say they haven’t tried one and don’t plan to do so in the next six months.
  • Feeling chatty?: People are on the fence about virtual gatherings with family or friends – 38% have tried it out in the past two months, but 39% are still convinced they won’t use the technology for the foreseeable future. Another third (32%) have attended or would attend a public event virtually, if they could not attend the IRL version.
  • Let’s get physical: A third of us (31%) have tried an online fitness workout in the past two months, with a further 16% planning to give one a go in the next six months. But half of us (51%) still aren’t tempted by it.
  • Parlez-vous francais?: Only 19% of Brits plan on learning a language using online video in the next year. Interest in online classes to learn other hobbies (such as gardening, woodwork, and cooking) was slightly higher with 24% of respondents considering these services.

What’s holding us back?

Steve Miller-Jones, VP edge strategy and solution architecture at Limelight Networks, explains:

“Online video is a key part of many online activities, so it’s no surprise that long load times and buffering is frustrating consumers and potentially stopping them from trying out virtual activities. Our research shows that whether for work or play, people in the UK simply aren’t willing to put up with poor online video experiences. Too often, video latency or a poor-quality picture can prevent virtual activities from delivering the personal connection and experiential benefits that consumers expect.  

“Businesses who want to offer a virtual experience need to carefully consider their content delivery strategy. This means choosing the right technology partners who can ensure end users have a high-quality, low latency experience.”