PARIS: Television viewing times increased around the world last year, a trend led by markets including France, China and Italy.

According to figures from Eurodata TV Worldwide, the research group, the average individual spent three hours and 16 minutes consuming TV content per day in 2011, an expansion of six minutes year on year.

More specifically, figures improved by 15 minutes in France, 12 minutes in China, seven minutes in Italy and five minutes in Spain.

The ownership of digital recording devices was found to exert a positive impact on engagement levels, boosting viewing totals by 11% in the US and 10% in the UK, the analysis added.

Digital channels have also strengthened their position, as shown by the fact these stations have enhanced their share in Spain from 9% in 2001 to 47% in 2011. 

Major live events proved particularly attractive to audiences around the world in 2011, with 203m people tuning in for Chinese New Year celebrations alone.

Sport was similarly popular, with 15.4m French viewers enjoying the Rugby World Cup final. In the UK, 13.6m viewers tuned in to see the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.

News bulletins represented 63% of the shows featuring in the factual rankings for 2011, up ten percentage points year on year, with the natural disasters that hit Japan and political unrest in the Middle East among the contributors this trend.

Elsewhere, entertainment shows made up 38% of the most popular programmes across all countries, with the Eurovision Song Contest, Strictly Come Dancing and the X Factor all international hits.

Fiction-based content also delivered 41% of the most widely-viewed shows, according to Eurodata's statistics for the entire year.

Jacques Braun, vice president of Eurodata TV Worldwide, said:"In 2011, a year that was packed with news and events, television succeeded in reinventing and imposing itself as the leading medium in terms of live content and exclusivity.

"In ten years, daily viewing times have risen by twenty minutes on average."

Data sourced from Eurodata TV Worldwide; additional content by Warc staff