Global TV Viewing is Losing Ground to Broadband

30 November 2006

LONDON: UK communications regulator Ofcom has extended its island gaze to take a global view of the TV, radio, telecoms and wireless communications industries, which between them command aggregated annual revenues of £840 billion ($1.636tr; €1.243tr).

The watchdog's first International Communications Market Report, published Wednesday, also compares UK data, consumer attitudes and industry performance against those of China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

Key points emerging from the study are . . .

  • In every nation surveyed, broadband usage appears linked to a decline in conventional television viewing. On average around one-third of consumers with broadband access said they watch less television since going online. Conversely, internet access appears to have a positive effect on radio listening, offsetting a decline in hours spent listening to conventional broadcast radio.

  • China leads the world in viewing music videos and television programmes over broadband; 76% of Chinese broadband users watch downloadable or streaming music video clips and 70% watch TV over broadband.

  • Among 18-24 year old broadband users, the UK is second only to China in its enthusiasm for online video. 77% of UK 18-24 year old broadband users watch music videos online (87% in China) and 60% watch TV programmes via their broadband connections (82% in China).

  • UK consumers buy more music online than consumers in any of the other European countries surveyed, spending more than twice as much per head of population than the French or Germans.

  • However, UK adoption of new services such as VoIP (phone calls via broadband) and IPTV (TV programmes and video on demand over broadband) is slower than in other countries. 5.4% of French consumers use VoIP services and 1.6% subscribe to IPTV services, compared to 0.4% of UK consumers for each of these services.

  • Radio is more popular in the UK than in any other country surveyed; UK average weekly listening per person is just under 23 hours. Listening to publicly-funded radio stations (for example, the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US) varies widely. After Sweden, the UK has the highest proportion of listening to publicly-funded radio (55% of total hours) of the countries surveyed.

  • The internet attracts almost 10% of all advertising spending in the UK; a higher proportion than in any other country surveyed.

  • The Republic of Ireland has the largest number of Wi-Fi hot spots per head of population (18.3 per 100,000 people), followed by the UK at 17.6 hot spots per 100,000 people. This compares to 10.5 in Germany, 8.8 in the US and 5.3 in Japan.

  • The adjusted data suggest that UK households which make extensive use of the latest communications services benefit from greater value than households in any of the five countries surveyed. A household with two mobiles, a high level of telephone use, a premium broadband connection (with a high-end PC) and a premium subscription television account (viewed on a flat screen digital TV set) would typically pay £188 per month in the UK compared with £201 in Italy and £247 in the most expensive country - the United States.

  • UK households with the lowest use of communications services - typically with low fixed-line phone use and free-to-air television - also benefit from greater value than households in the five other countries surveyed. The lightest users pay £28 per month in the UK compared to £31 in France and £34 in Italy.

  • Average annual television revenue in the United States significantly exceeds that of Europe (£74.7bn versus £50.8bn) despite the much smaller US population. However, of the countries surveyed, the UK has the highest television revenues in Europe (£9.9bn), second only to the United States on a per capita basis (£164 compared to £253 for the US).
Major emerging economies such as Russia, Brazil and India are excluded from the study due, says Ofcom, to a lack a comparable data from those countries. Nonetheless it is a commendable 'first' from a body whose perspective is by definition normally limited to the UK.

Comments Ofcom ceo Ed Richards: "Rapidly converging technologies and intense competition between providers are transforming the global communications sector.

"As the UK market evolves, delivering greater innovation, choice and value for consumers, it becomes increasingly important to consider its future in the context of these emerging global trends."

The full Ofcom report can be downloaded by clicking here

Data sourced from Ofcom (UK); additional content by WARC staff