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Tech-savvy UK viewers lead the world

News, 11 December 2015

LONDON: UK TV viewers are among the most-tech savvy in the world in terms of using catch-up free-to-air TV services, including via tablet, and online streaming services.

A new report from Ofcom, the UK regulator – International Communications Report 2015 – suggested that viewers in the UK were using their TV gadgets more than any other major country.

Thus, 70% had used a free-to-air catch-up service in the previous month, well ahead of the other eight countries considered in the study. France and Italy (both on 52%) were the next most-frequent users of these services, followed by Spain (51%), Sweden and Australia (both 50%).

The remaining three came in at under half: the US (37%), Germany (36%) and Japan (26%).

Further, some 16% of online UK adults had done so via a tablet, marginally ahead of Italy, on 14%; among the rest, only Spain and Sweden crept into double figures (Both 11%).

Online UK adults were also the most likely to use an online service to watch TV or films, at 81%, ahead of 76% in both Italy and Spain, 69% in Australia, 68% in Sweden, 66% in France, 65% in the US 58% in Germany and 54% in Japan.

"UK viewers won't be tied to the TV schedule this Christmas," said James Thickett, Ofcom Director of Research.

"More than anywhere else, we're watching TV and films at a time that suits us, on a range of devices, in and out of the home. So this year, more people can fit their festive TV viewing around opening presents and carving the turkey."

The trend was further emphasised in the finding that 42% of UK homes own a connected TV – a higher proportion than any country sampled except Spain. And 70% of these connected viewers were watching catch-up services and 45% viewing content supplied by subscription services like Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Consequently, on-demand spending is rising rapidly. According to Ofcom, consumers and advertisers in the UK spent £908m on these services last year, up 44% from £631m in 2013, and from just £102m in 2009.

But these figures remain small when compared to the overall £14bn generated by the TV industry in 2014, of which 45% was generated by pay-TV subscriptions.

Data sourced from Ofcom; additional content by Warc staff