Imelda Staunton in Netflix's The Crown

Credit: Netflix

Covid has sparked a surge in so-called "silver streamers" switching to on-demand services during lockdown, delivering a blow to struggling terrestrial broadcasters such as the BBC. 

The number of consumers aged between 65 to 75 with access to a subscription to a video streaming service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime surged from 36pc in 2020 to 57pc this year, according to figures from Deloitte. 

The over 65s have been eager adopters of new gadgets and technology over the last 12 months, driven by increasing need for digital communication to avoid isolation during the pandemic.

Deloitte said that overall adoption of new technology during the 12 months to July 2021 grew at the fastest pace in a decade with around 19.2m devices bought in the UK during the period, 8pc higher than a year earlier. 

The figures from Deloitte will add to concerns from traditional broadcasters such as the BBC which rely on older watchers to boost their viewing figures.

With streaming on the rise, 35pc of adults said they could see themselves no longer relying on the main TV channels within the next three years. 

Paul Lee, a partner at Deloitte, said: “The pace of adoption has been really fast. It has been a surge, due to lockdowns, in particular during winter. One of the easiest things for relatives to do [for older family members] to make sure they are okay is to set them up with a video subscription.

“I would still expect the majority of consumption in this group to be in broadcast, but there will be some people switching mostly to on-demand.”

Laptop access among this demographic increased from 68pc to 75pc during the same period, while smartwatch usage doubled from 4pc to 8pc.

Analysts have previously noted that Netflix and Amazon have already begun to tailor more shows to appeal to older audiences in order to broaden the viewership of their apps.

Ampere Analysis said that shows such Netflix’s The 39 Steps, an adaption of the 1915 thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch, were designed to appeal outside of the streaming service’s bedrock of younger viewers. The efforts come as the BBC increasingly chases younger viewers who have abandoned TV for Netflix or YouTube.

Streaming apps have nearly reached saturation point among younger viewers. More than 80pc of under 35s paid for or had access to subscription video streaming apps during lockdown last year, according to Ofcom.

Helen Rees, director of media at Deloitte, said: “Streaming subscription growth is slowing among every age group other than those aged over 65, offering a new and loyal audience for platforms to target. 

“This should be a clear focus for streaming platforms in the year ahead as they look to set themselves apart in a crowded market. Platforms that invest in quality content and stories that strike a chord with older audiences will reap the rewards.”