Our iwonder report reveals a changing appetite for factual films in 2020. COVID-19 creates surge in demand for Culture, Society and Health & Wellness content.

Nationwide documentary viewing up 135% since the start of the pandemic. Victoria Metro lockdown #2 drives 162% Melbourne documentary viewing increase.

  • Top five most viewed on-demand factual genres nationwide in 2020 are Crime, Culture, Society, Health & Wellness, Politics
  • Crime content remains #1 while Culture documentaries see the biggest climb, more than doubling in popularity year-on-year
  • Sydneysiders show highest interest in biographies in 2020
  • Melburnians show a 2020 preference for nature docs
  • Brisbane viewers show strongest national interest in docs exploring gender themes
  • Perth the home of the highest proportion of Environment and Adventure doco fans

iwonder, Australia’s fast-growing documentary and current affairs streaming service, today releases the first annual update to the ‘Doco Streaming Study’, revealing Australians’ hunger for factual entertainment and the effect Coronavirus has had on demand.

In a strong sign that Australians used their time to find out more about the world during a period when nations rushed to close their borders, overall documentary viewing time has risen 135% since the start of the pandemic, thanks in large to time spent exploring the world through in-depth factual storytelling on TVs, smartphones and tablets.

Drawing on iwonder subscriber data across desktop and mobile iwonder can reveal the top five most popular factual genres for 2020 and how they have changed over the past year. They are:

1. Crime 35% (+11% from 2019)

2. Culture 19% (+10% from 2019)

3. Society 16% (+3% from 2019)

4. Health & Wellness 8% (+3% from 2019)

5. Politics 7% (no change from 2019)

While these genres proved popular nationwide, metro viewership figures showed some revealing differences, with Sydnersiders showing the strongest national preference for biographies, with 12% of all content viewed falling into this category.

Melbourne documentary viewers showed the strongest national preference for nature content, with 9% of viewing falling into this category. With subscribers in Brisbane showing the highest national preference for gender issues related content (13%).

A higher proportion of documentary viewers in Perth consumed Environment and Adventure related factual content in 2020, with the percentage of the population gravitating to this content almost twice as high as in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Looking at the intervention of COVID-19 and the effect it has had on viewing habits for people going through different experiences of coping with Coronavirus, Melbourne’s second lockdown between July and October led to a 162% increase in total documentary hours viewed across the months of August and September compared to the preceding two months.

Commenting on the Doco Streaming Study, iwonder Head of Insights, Mark Bridges, says: “Faced with few options for travel, exploration and discovery in 2020, Australians still showed a remarkable desire to learn more about events and issues that continued to shape the world around them.

As we each focused on personal wellbeing and the resilience of communities and societies in Australia and around the world in 2020, it’s fascinating to see this trend mirrored in the entry of Society and Health & Wellness documentaries into this year’s Top Five list, displacing 2019’s stronger preference for Environment and Adventure programming.

With vaccines paving the way for the conquest of COVID-19 in 2021, it’s going to be interesting once again to see how the nation’s viewing habits and demand for documentaries reconfigures to reflect a return to life as we once knew it.”

iwonder’s nationwide viewing study is backed up by the leading global content demand analytics company Parrot Analytics.

“We measure billions of demand signals for TV shows around the world daily and in line with the iwonder’s insights, we have found that the global demand for documentaries has grown by an amazing 41% YoY”, remarks Steve Langdon, Regional Director at Parrot Analytics.

“Stories are how humans process information and documentaries have been key to people making sense of the different world around them this year. In addition to the documentary genres on the rise pointed out by iwonder, we At Parrot Analytics have also seen a big 103% YoY increase in global demand for sports documentaries which have been saving armchair fans with withdrawal symptoms around the planet.”

With access to more than 1,000 award-winning and highly-acclaimed documentary films and series across over 50 genres, users can enjoy iwonder on their mobile phones via iOS and Android apps, through browsers at www.iwonder.com, via Google Chromecast or Apple’s Airplay or with Apple TV and Telstra TV for just $6.99 a month or $69.90 annually.