LONDON: Commercial TV viewing in the UK increased to 2 hours, 24 minutes a day in the first half of 2016, an increase of one minute on the same period last year, and seven minutes more than a decade ago, new industry figures have shown.

According to Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, commercial TV channels in the UK "enjoyed a strong beginning" to 2016, as they increased their share of total TV viewing to 67.4%, up from 66% in the first half of 2015.

When non-commercial BBC channels were included in the total TV viewing figures, Thinkbox calculated that British viewers watched 3 hours, 34 minutes of TV a day from January to June.

This represented a slight decrease of two minutes a day compared to the same period last year, according to the methodology, which used the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board's (BARB) standard TV measurement.

As BARB's standard measurement does not include TV watched on other devices, such as tablets and smartphones, nor the growth of viewing on a TV set after seven days of the original broadcast, the report found that, if these were included, overall TV viewing increased by eight minutes to 3 hours, 42 minutes a day.

The report went on to note that commercial TV channels in the UK are benefitting at the BBC's expense, especially since the public broadcaster closed down its BBC Three channel in February.

According to figures from the BBC, viewing of its broadcast TV channels fell by 8% compared with last year and the drop was particularly pronounced among viewers aged 16 to 34, BBC Three's core audience, who registered a fall of 18%.

Thinkbox noted that ITV2 saw its year-on-year viewing increase 27% over March to June, while E4 saw growth of 4%, and suggested commercial TV channels that cater for the 16-34 age group have gained from the closure of BBC Three.

"TV is thriving on all screens, but the importance of TV channels on TV sets cannot be overlooked. They remain the first port of call for the majority of people of all ages," said Matt Hill, Research and Planning Director at Thinkbox.

"The apparent boost that commercial TV has received from BBC Three's disappearance from the schedules underlines this fact – a strategy that is in stark contrast to the imminent arrival of Viceland on commercial TV."

Data sourced from Thinkbox; additional content by Warc staff