UK media habits evolve

16 November 2010

LONDON: Simultaneous media use is increasing among UK consumers, as people combine activities like e-commerce and accessing social networks with watching television.

Industry body Thinkbox and research firm Decipher assessed the attitudes and behaviour of 3,000 individuals from the "most digitally-enabled households", including qualitative analysis and tracking data.

They also provided six families with the latest technology, such as web-connected TV sets and smartphones, to see if their habits changed.

Overall, the proportion of participants viewing TV content "on-demand" has grown from 64% in 2008 to 80% at present.

More specifically, 89% of this activity was spent catching up on programmes respondents had missed, having scored 78% in 2008.

By contrast, the number of contributors discovering new shows via this route fell from 22% to 11% during the same period.

Some 71% of adults had used the BBC iPlayer, and 39% the ITV Player, with both services posting 15% upticks on 2008.

Figures stood at 36% for Channel 4's 4oD and 12% for Sky Player, while 33% had played back broadcast content on YouTube.

Elsewhere, a 59% majority of those polled were increasingly selective about the programmes they consumed, measured against 30% in 2008.

Simultaneous media use is also gaining ground, as 60% of the sample claimed to surf the net and watch television concurrently at least two or three times each week, including 37% who do so every day.

Meanwhile, 52% of the panel had engaged in e-commerce when viewing live TV and 44% browsed social networks.

Using Facebook through a "shared" TV screen was not considered attractive due to the site's "personal nature", with laptops and mobiles perceived to be preferable for this pastime and online chat.

However, 37% of participants had discussed TV shows or ads on the internet, 19% had linked to TV content on social networks and 9% had joined a related group on Facebook.

"The qualitative research found that Facebook motivates viewers to watch live TV programming in case their friends tell them what has happened and spoil the experience," the Thinkbox/Decipher study said.

"The research also underlines the importance of sharing TV with other people and how the internet and the rise of two-screen viewing has created a 'virtual sofa' that enhances viewers' enjoyment of TV."

Data sourced from Thinkbox; additional content by Warc staff