LONDON: Nearly a quarter of consumers in France, Japan, the UK and US now access social networks via mobile phones, according to a new study.

Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, has released a report covering media usage trends in 17 countries, including China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia and the UK.

The average viewer across these nations spent 207 minutes watching television every day, peaking at 280 minutes in America, 240 minutes in Poland, 238 minutes in Italy and 225 minutes in the UK.

In terms of emerging formats, the UK and Spain led the way concerning digital TV take-up, both posting 91%.

Regarding high-definition services, Britain again secured the strongest score as 59% of households boast HD-ready sets, ahead of the US on 57%.

However, 44% of the American audience could pick from 404 HD channels and 43% of Japanese residences had 120 alternatives to choose between, totals standing at 13% and 50 stations in the UK.

Some 34.7m dwellings in the US owned a DVR by the close of 2009, an annual increase of 26%, with the UK up 40% to 7.8m.

A 24% share of the British panel also watched broadcast content online every week, while an even greater 45% claimed to have done so at least once.

The US registered the second-best figures in this area, as 22% of the domestic sample streamed such material within any given seven day period.

Staying with the web, around two-thirds of respondents in the US, Italy and the UK have joined a social network, falling to 58% in France – which has recorded rapid growth – and 33% in Japan.

The number of 18-25 year olds logging on to sites like Facebook and Twitter reached 86% in the UK, topping France's 77% and Japan's 48%.

Moreover, 45% of Britons aged between 55 and 64 years old regularly participate in this activity, comfortably bettering 30% in Germany and 13% from Japan.

Furthermore, 37% of Britons had browsed the web using a mobile phone, including 29% doing so when at home.

Wireless internet use attained 37% in France and 36% in the US, but climbed to 70% in Japan, aided by the early introduction of 3G services.

Approximately 24% of Britons accessed social networks through a handset, incorporating 45% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 38% of 25 to 34-year-olds.

The UK's overall score surpassed the 23% yielded by French contributors to the study, 22% in the US and Japan, 18% in Italy and 13% in Germany.

Elsewhere, Ofcom revealed smartphone penetration has hit 26% in Italy, the highest in Europe, beating Spain's 21% and the UK's 18%.

Turning to mobile adspend, the per capita investment in Japan stood at £5.57, roughly five times the amount delivered by the UK, in second place on £1.14.

The web now takes 27% of UK ad revenues, with Sweden on almost exactly 25%, at least five percentage points ahead of Germany, the US, Austria, France and Canada.

British shoppers also completed the greatest number of online purchases during the last six months, on 19, typically spending £1,031 in this way, followed by Germany's £595.

Ofcom added that consumers' communications expenditure levels were comparatively "resilient" with only 7% of people, at most, willing to cut back on broadband costs.

This can be measured against totals ranging from 39% to 56% who would consider reducing their outlay on nights out, and ratings of 29% to 51% regarding holidays.

Data sourced from Ofcom; additional content by Warc staff