Netflix and gaming: How the Irish got through the pandemic

Netflix and gaming: How the Irish got through the pandemic

According to data from the European Commission's statistics body Eurostat, just under three-quarters of EU internet users watched internet-streamed TV or videos in 2020. 

Sitting at home during the Covid-19 pandemic meant becoming best friends with the likes of Netflix, but Irish people didn't rely on their PlayStations or XBox consoles as much as their European neighbours.

According to data from the European Commission's statistics body Eurostat, just under three-quarters of EU internet users watched internet-streamed TV or videos in 2020. That doesn't even include programmes or videos downloaded and saved for later.

Contrary to the self-perception that we are glued to our watching devices, Ireland was around the EU 74% average, far behind the Nordic countries and Croatia and the Netherlands, all of which were in the 90% range.

It's perhaps not surprising how reliant our Dutch friends are on streaming, considering how good their internet access is.

'Almost universal internet access'

"Among the EU member states, internet access was almost universal in the Netherlands, covering 97% of all households in 2020. The share of households with access to the internet was at least 90% in 17 of 27 EU member states and was lower than 80% only in Bulgaria (79%)," said Eurostat.

More than 90% in Ireland have access, up from around 85% six years ago, it said.

Ireland's long-mooted national broadband plan, which has been an arduous, drawn-out process since it was first considered in 2012, is to connect over 500,000 hard-to-reach premises in the coming years, at a cost of over €3bn.

However, in the meantime, fellow EU member states have got to grips with similar broadband issues, shoring up their coverage since the middle of the last decade, said Eurostat.

"Some of the EU member states that had relatively low rates of household internet access in 2015 showed a fast expansion in connectivity rates during the past five years. 

"Between 2015 and 2020, the share of households with access to the internet rose the fastest in Cyprus (by 22 percentage points), Bulgaria (by 20) and Romania (by 18)," it said.

Way to catch up

Ireland has a way to catch up to be as addicted to gaming as European counterparts.

Across the EU in 2020, some 34% of internet users aged 16 to 74 participated in gaming.

Unsurprisingly, 56% of the Dutch took advantage of near universal broadband coverage, followed by Danes and Maltese at 47%. Lithuanian, Slovakian, Polish, and Bulgarian citizens were the least bothered about gaming, while only around a quarter of Irish internet users played online.

Despite a decline in traditional media such as physical newspapers, the thirst for knowledge and current affairs remains steadfast, far more than music or gaming, according to the Eurostat findings.

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