Swiss media usage: Digitization surge in Corona year brings top figures for TV and radio

Digitization surge: The Swiss are using many more smartphones and laptops. Cashless payment by cell phone increases markedly in the Corona year. Netflix, Spotify, and social media platforms gain new users. TikTok grows the most. TV and radio achieve top ratings - among young and old. This is shown by the annual Digimonitor study of the electronic media interest group (IGEM) and WEMF AG for Advertising Media Research.


The key facts at a glance:

  • Digitization push for electronic devices: Smartphone users increase by 600,000. Laptop use is growing by half a million Swiss.
  • All social media platforms are on the rise. Even Facebook is recovering. TikTok is currently growing the fastest, but especially among young women in Switzerland.
  • Netflix cracks the 2 million mark with 400,000 new users. 3.2 million people went to the cinema in the last six months. At 6.0 million, conventional television has just under three times as many viewers as Netflix.
  • Spotify records 300,000 new users. Of the 2 million users, the majority have a paid Spotify subscription. At 5.7 million, radio has almost three times as many listeners as Spotify.
  • Jump in Corona year for cashless mobile payments. 1.8 million people pay for their purchases without cash using their smartphone. That is 650,000 more people than in the previous year.
  • Swiss payment app Twint is market leader before Apple Pay or Google Pay.


Digitization surge and home office effect: Many more Swiss use smartphones and laptops

Smartphone users in Switzerland have increased significantly within a year. 600,000 people are now using a smartphone. In 2020, 5.6 million people now have Internet access anytime and anywhere with a smartphone (from 80 percent to 88 percent of the total population). In particular, the older population group of over-55s (from 54 percent to 71 percent) is increasingly using a smartphone, as are men (from 79 percent to 90 percent ).

There has also been a significant increase in the number of laptops. Half a million Swiss will now use a laptop at least occasionally (from 4.3 to 4.8 million). In 2020, for the first time, more people are using a laptop (76 percent) than a desktop PC (69 percent). (Chart 2) Men (from 70 percent to 82 percent ) and the over-55s (from 45 percent to 57 percent) also made the most gains in laptop use.



TV set most widespread

The TV set is and remains the most-used electronic device in Switzerland. 92 percent of the total population sit in front of the "box" at least occasionally (5.9 million people). Radio sets are used by 82 percent of the population (5.2 million). Just under half of the population (47 percent) also listen to the radio on other devices: on a smartphone (24 percent), on a TV set (24 percent), on a PC/laptop (20 percent) or on a tablet (4 percent).


One in eight men and one in twelve women wear a smartwatch on their wrist

Wearing a smartwatch is growing by 200,000 users. Now just under 700,000 people (11%) wear a smartwatch on their wrist. Only voice-controlled speakers have not benefited from the boom in electronic devices. As in the previous year, less than 3 percent of the population at least occasionally speak to a smart speaker such as Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod. That equates to just 160,000 people in Switzerland. (Chart 2)


More time for social media? TikTok with strong growth especially among younger people 

In 2020, the Swiss seem to have more time for social media. All social media platforms are gaining new users. Facebook and Instagram each achieve 350,000 new users. Facebook is thus recovering from last year's slump. At 3.0 million, not quite half of the total population (46 percent) now uses Facebook at least occasionally. (Graphic 1)


2.1 million or one-third (33 percent) of the population is occasionally on Instagram. Instagram is particularly popular among young people under 25: 82 percent of younger people use Instagram, while only 34 percent use Facebook. (Chart 4) This is because, in contrast to the population as a whole, Facebook is losing ground among young people under 25. This age group is turning to the Chinese video portal TikTok. TikTok is currently growing fastest in Switzerland. The number of "TikTokers" has increased almost fivefold compared to the previous year. Of the total 370,000 TikTok users in Switzerland, most are under 25, female and in education. One in three women under 25 "tiktokt" (34 percent). However, TikTok has not yet caught on with the population as a whole: only 6 percent use TikTok from time to time. (Graphic 1)


Younger people afford a paid Spotify subscription

Within a year, the music streaming service Spotify has gained 300,000 new users. Older population groups in particular are discovering Spotify: half of the new users are over 55 years old. 2.0 million people now listen to music at least occasionally via Spotify, which corresponds to just under a third of the total population (31 percent). (Chart 1) Among younger people aged 15 to 24, the proportion of Spotify users is more than twice as large: 64 percent of young Swiss people listen to Spotify from time to time. Of the 2.0 million Spotify listeners, 800,000 use the free version and 1.2 million pay for Spotify. In particular, 20- to 30-year-old users afford the paid version of Spotify. Despite music streaming, radio remains popular in Switzerland. With 5.7 million people, radio has almost three times as many listeners as Spotify. Younger people also listen to the radio widely. More than 80 percent of people under 25 listen to the radio, and not quite half even do so daily.


Netflix cracks the 2 million mark with 400,000 new users 

Netflix gains 400,000 viewers in Corona year. Netflix now has 2.2 million users in Switzerland. Corona has hardly spurred Netflix's growth, however: The growth is in line with the trend of previous years. In 2015, only 5 percent of the population aged 15 and older watched Netflix from time to time. By 2020, more than one in three (35 percent) do so. (Figure 1) Netflix is also more widespread than average among younger people aged 15 to 24: Three quarters (75 percent) of young Swiss people watch Netflix from time to time. (Graphic 4)

But other video providers are entering the Swiss market and competing for viewers and subscribers. However, the newer services such as Disney+ (5 percent), Twitch (5 percent), Apple TV Plus (4 percent) or Amazon Prime (2 percent) are still far behind the use of YouTube (74 percent) or Netflix (35 percent).

Despite all these new offerings, classic television remains popular in Switzerland. At 95 percent of the total population, the broad masses watch TV. And they do so very frequently: 7 out of 10 people in Switzerland switch on the TV every day (69 percent). (Figure 1) And it's not just the older generation who watch TV: almost half of the 15 to 24-year-olds also watch TV every day. At 6.0 million, traditional TV has just under three times as many viewers as Netflix. Traditional TV also has 1.3 million more viewers than YouTube.

Cinemas also continue to be visited despite Netflix and Corona. More than half of the population has been to the cinema at least once in the last six months. (Figure 1) Cinema is even more popular among younger people: 70 percent of people under 25 go to the cinema at least once every six months, and a large proportion of them several times.

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Jump in Corona year for cashless payments with cell phones

There has been a significant increase in the use of smartphones to make contactless payments for purchases. Cashless payment by cell phone is growing in all population groups. However, usage is strongly dependent on age, gender and income: the younger, the more male and the higher the income, the more likely purchases are to be paid for by cell phone. Around 650,000 people discovered cashless payment by cell phone for the first time in the Corona year. 1.8 million people (28 percent) in Switzerland now use mobile payment options (not quite 1.2 million in 2019). (Graphic 5)


Swiss payment app Twint is market leader ahead of Apple Pay or Google Pay 

One third of the population (2.1 million people) uses mobile payment services such as Twint, Apple, Google or Samsung Pay at least occasionally. The vast majority of these use the Swiss app Twint. Twint has a clear lead over its foreign competitors in all population groups. Just over a quarter of the total population aged 15 and over uses Twint (27 percent). (Chart 1) Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay each have less than 4 percent of users in the Swiss population.

About the IGEM Digimonitor 2020 study

The Digimonitor study has been surveying the use of electronic media and devices in Switzerland every year since 2014. The data is representative of the entire population in German- and French-speaking Switzerland aged 15 and over, because offliners and people without a fixed network connection are also surveyed. The telephone survey took place from the beginning of April to the end of May 2020. On behalf of the electronic media interest group IGEM and WEMF, the Link Institute surveyed 1,759 people, of whom 1,008 were in German-speaking Switzerland and 751 in French-speaking Switzerland. The confidence interval is a maximum of +/- 2.3 percentage points.

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