TV losing favour in UK

22 April 2011

LONDON: Young consumers in the UK have a stronger attachment to the internet and mobile phones than television, new figures suggest.

Media regulator Ofcom surveyed 2,117 people aged 16 years old and above, alongside 2,071 children in the five-to-15 year old demographic.

The first of these groups spent 14.2 hours a week online in 2010, measured against 12.2 hours during 2009, indicating the web's rising importance.

Contributors in the 12-15 year old audience typically dedicated 15.6 hours to the net in the same period, just below the 17.2 hours committed to watching TV.

When asked which medium they would "miss the most", television delivered 44%, although such a total had declined from 50% on an annual basis.

Moreover, 28% of the sample in the 16-24 year old segment chose mobile phones, as the internet hit 26% and TV secured 23%.

Communication remains the most common reason for using the web among respondents who are 16 years of age and above, given 83% of the panel undertook relevant activities at least once a week.

Overall, 79% participants use email services with such frequency, an area where social networks posted 45%, matching the score for work and study, while banking and paying bills yielded 33%.

A 54% majority of the adult online population have joined a social network, an enhancement on the 44% logged in 2009.

Indeed, 51% of individuals belonging to properties like Facebook and Twitter now log on every day, an increase from the 41% registered 12 months ago.

At present, 41% of netizens consume audio-visual material through the web, a surge from 32% in the previous study.

The iPlayer, a video-on-demand platform run by broadcaster the BBC, has a lead role here, as 37% of interviewees have accessed content via this channel, falling to 13% for alternatives.

Looking to ecommerce, 46% of Ofcom's adult cohort agreed they had made "significant savings" by purchasing something online rather than visiting bricks and mortar stores.

More broadly, 82% reported "saving money" by utilising price comparison portals, web-based retailers, group buying sites or equivalent digital tools, instead of turning to the high-street.

Elsewhere, Ofcom found 31% of Britons browse the net on mobile devices, an improvement on the 28% level recorded last year, and reaching 55% for 16-24 year olds.

However, only 2% of adults solely use wireless devices to do so, ignoring desktop PCs or laptops altogether.

Data sourced from Ofcom; additional content by Warc staff