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TV viewing dips in UK

News, 27 February 2015

LONDON: The average daily amount of time UK viewers spent watching TV dipped by around ten minutes in 2014 as the heaviest users of the medium reined in their habit, according to new figures.

Data from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB) showed that viewers watched a total of 3 hours 41 minutes of TV every day on a TV set – either live or on playback or on-demand within seven days of broadcast.

Separate data from Thinkbox, the marketing body for TV broadcasters was based on figures supplied by broadcasters themselves. This revealed that 3 minutes 30 seconds of TV was consumed via devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops – mostly on-demand but some via live streaming.

In all, there was a decline of 10 minutes 30 seconds, attributable entirely to a drop in TV set viewing. It fell 4.7% while viewing on other screens grew 17%.

Despite that, TV sets continue to be the UK's screen of choice by some distance: in 2014, 98.4% of all TV was watched on a TV set and most of that took place in the living room.

Putting this into a longer term perspective, TV set viewing was only 0.4% less in 2014 than it was 10 years ago, Thinkbox said. And reach remained high at 94.2% a week in 2014.

That last figure was slight down on 2013 (94.6%), which was explained by the fact that those who were watching the most watched a bit less: the number of viewers who watched over 4 hours a day in 2014 fell by 7.2% compared with 2013.

Most viewing continues to be live – 88% in 2014 compared to 89% in 2013 – with the level of non-live viewing (i.e. playback and VOD within 7 days on a TV set) settling around the 15-20% mark.

But as viewing increasingly takes place outside those seven days – the measurement on which TV advertising is traded – BARB also measured viewing that had taken place between eight and 28 days after broadcast. A more nuanced picture emerged, with the 4.7% decline noted above being reduced to 3.4%.

Younger people watched 7.1% less TV in 2014 but it remains the dominant medium and, crucially for advertisers, commercial TV accounted for three quarters (74.8%) of the viewing of 16-34 year olds.

That was above the national average of 65.8%, meaning that the average person watched 2 hours 25 minutes of commercial TV a day, including 45 ads – seven more than ten years ago.

Data sourced from Thinkbox; additional content by Warc staff