Bingo: The Analogue Antidote to Digital Overload

Photo of Mark Mulligan
by Mark Mulligan

This week MIDiA published a report on a sector that has been on the side lines for some time but is returning to health: Bingo! If you are based in the UK you may well have seen or heard some of the extensive media coverage this report that was commissioned by Buzz Bingo got. Here are a few of the key findings:

midia bingo infographic

There are 5.6 million active Bingo players in the UK, which is more than the subscriber bases of Amazon Prime Video and Apple Music in the UK in 2017. Additionally, the UK Bingo industry generated $1.3 billion in 2017, which comparted to the $750 million generated by Spotify and Netflix in the UK. So while Bingo may lack the digital glamour of streaming services, it is a more substantial component of the UK entertainment landscape than many of them.

Bingo also has a legacy reputation of being predominately played by older people and in less affluent, northern areas of the UK. That reputation may have been well earned in the past but a different picture is now emerging. The average age of Bingo players is just 39 while there are as many Bingo players in London (1.2 million) as there are in the north of England.

Bingo is going digital with a wide range of apps and other digital games. The average mobile / online Bingo player plays 7 times a month.

But one of the most interesting findings of the report is Bingo’s impact on mental well-being and life outlook. 74% of UK Bingo players say they have a positive outlook on life, compared to 66% of the overall population. In addition, 63% of Bingo players consider themselves to be confident, compared to only 50% of the overall population.

These days consumers of all ages live much of their lives through their digital devices. There is a growing body of research indicating that Gen Z and younger Millennials are becoming more socially isolated and developing confidence issues and mental health problems, in large part due to living so much of their lives through their screens. Always trying to keep up virtual appearances and feeling perpetually inadequate against endless streams of more-perfect-than-real-life selfies. The confidence and well-being of Bingo players owes much to the real world community and socializing that comes from playing regularly with others in real world environments.

We are beginning to see the first signs of the digital pendulum swing backwards. Consumers are seeking out more physical and real world experiences, whether that be buying vinyl, reading limited edition niche zines or choosing print books over ebooks. Bingo playing may not be front of everyone’s mind, but for 5.6 million Brits it is emerging as an analogue antidote to digital overload.

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