Commercial TV boosts UK viewing share

14 May 2009

LONDON: Commercial television's share of total TV viewing time in the UK rose 1.1%, to 63.5%, in the first quarter of 2009, with the number of "commercial impacts" – the ads watched by viewers at normal speed – also rising 2% on an annual basis, Thinkbox says.

A typical British consumer watched commercial television for over 17 hours a week in the first quarter, while the total viewing time, which includes the publicly-funded BBC, remained stable at slightly under 27.5 hours in a seven-day period.

The growth of online video on-demand services is one reason for the upturn in viewing time, with 78% of content played back via these channels taking the form of viewers "catching up” with content they have missed earlier in the week.

Digital video recorders, which are owned by nearly a third of UK households, have also contributed to this trend, as viewers with access to such devices watch an average of 17% more broadcast material than those who do not.

Thinkbox argues that a mixture of "compelling programming" and the role of the economic downturn in encouraging people to “stay in more” also played their part.

Figures from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board also show that ad impacts among ABC1s aged 16–34 years old age increased by 2% in the first three months of this year, with men also viewing 3% more ads than in the year-ago period.

Overall, ad impacts have increased by 16% in the last five years, and Thinkbox further reports that falling ad rates mean advertising on TV currently costs the same as in the 1980s in real terms.

Data sourced from Thinkbox; additional content by WARC staff