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Are Brits Going Back to a Saturday Night In?

The COVID-19 pandemic flipped our lives on their heads. Our Saturday nights out quickly became Saturday nights in on the sofa as our go-to venues closed their doors.

By Owen MarshallPublished 3 years ago 3 min read

When pubs, bars, and clubs finally began to reopen, we dashed out, eager to enjoy our favourite pastimes once again.

But has the novelty worn off quickly, or are Saturday nights out set to stay?

As the colder, darker nights draw in, we explore whether Brits have reverted to a Saturday night in after a summer filled with nights on the town.

A classic Saturday night in

Who remembers spending Saturday evenings in front of the TV with their parents or grandparents, takeaway in hand? So popular was this activity that Ant and Dec named their primetime show after it!

In years gone by, Saturday was THE night for entertainment TV. Whether you grew up with Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, The X Factor, or Stars in Their Eyes, you were most likely glued to the TV. Viewing figures always reached their peak on Saturday nights, with these shows drawing in tens of millions of viewers.

Many of these classic shows are still on the go in 2020 and 2021, and for many of us, the nostalgia helped us cope throughout lockdown.

Our changing TV consumption habits

It’ll come as no surprise that we consumed more TV during the pandemic and multiple national lockdowns. The pandemic accelerated our shift to on-demand and online TV viewing, with broadcast TV seeing its lowest reach ever in 2020 despite its audience being confined to their homes for much of the year.

We did, however, watch an average of three and a half hours of broadcast TV in December 2020, which was a higher average monthly time than December 2019 and 2018, highlighting that we still turned to TV with little else to do.

But where Strictly Come Dancing’s 2020 launch saw 8.6 million people tune in, its 2021 premiere show attracted an audience of 7 million viewers, one of its lowest figures yet and a significant drop on the previous year. Similarly, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway attracted its highest ever viewing figures in 2020, with an average of 9.5 million viewers in its first audience-less show. However, when the 2021 season drew to a close, this figure had dropped by a million.

Saturday nights out are back

These drops in viewing figures are to be expected. For many of us, the easing of lockdown restrictions in 2021 was a cause for celebration. After four months of lockdown, we were able to enjoy pubs, restaurants, and bars outdoors, closely followed by indoor socialising and, eventually, clubs and entertainment venues reopening.

The drop in TV viewing figures shows that, for many of us, Saturday nights in front of the television might have been a means to an ends. You only need to walk through a city centre on a weekend evening now to see that many of us are still making up for lost time by going out.

Could viewing figures recover soon?

We’ve all seen the memes of not saying no to any social invitations this year, but on the flip side, has this left some of us burnt out?

Reports of people experiencing “social hangovers” or “social fatigue” began to emerge in the months following restrictions easing. After the best part of a year and a half with limited social contact, suddenly we were overwhelmed after going out and seeing friends and family again.

Add to that the feeling of being hungover and tired on a Sunday morning, and it’s easy to see why some people might be looking for a few extra Saturday nights on the sofa at the moment. After a few heavy weekends in a row, there’s nothing more relaxing than curling up on the sofa in your sweats and oversized women’s long-sleeved top with a takeaway in hand. We could very well see viewing figures start to creep back up on a Saturday night over the next few months in line with this.

Our favourite activities were vastly limited during lockdown, with our favourite bars, clubs, and pubs closed for months at a time. We turned to TV for comfort during these difficult times, with viewing figures soaring during the lockdown months. But, as restrictions eased and venues opened up, we’ve certainly wasted no time in getting ourselves out and about again. Some of us might be peppering in more Saturday nights in as winter draws closer, but it seems for the majority of us, we’re not quite done partying yet.



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