LONDON: Viewing levels of commercial broadcast television in the UK reached a record high in the first six months of this year, according to figures from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board and Thinkbox.

BARB, the measurement body, found that the "normal" British consumer watched 16.7 hours of commercial broadcast television a week in H1 2009, up by ten minutes on an annual basis, and by 42 minutes on the average from the last five years.

During this period, the typical total broadcast viewing time was 26.2 hours a week, in line with the same period in 2007, but 18 minutes higher than the mean figure from 2005 to the present.

According to the Half Year Review issued by Thinkbox, the TV industry marketing body, commercial television thus took a 63.7% share of all broadcast viewing time from January to June, up 3.2% in the last half-decade.

Moreover, the number of commercial impacts – or the amount of ads watched by an "ordinary" viewer at normal speed – rose by 2% year-on-year, and by 16% over the last five years, to 43 spots a day, or 2.45 billion executions in all.

Within this, 16-34 year olds saw 2.5% more TV ads on a daily basis, a figure which increased to 3.2% for adults in the ABC1 category, and 3.3% for male consumers as a group.

The improvement in overall viewing levels demonstrated that the rising popularity in online video-on-demand services is "is incremental to broadcast TV, not a substitute," Thinkbox argued.

Tess Alps, chief executive of the organisation, added that "record viewing is of course great for advertisers and the smartest are taking advantage of this, running longer time-lengths than normal, adding bursts or bringing smaller brands onto TV."

Some 34% of UK households are also now said to own at least one digital television recorder, with the "timeshifted" playback of content representing 5% of all viewing time.

Over 89% of homes also have access to some form of digital television platform, while 78% of people were found to use the web to view content originally shown on its more traditional counterpart, mainly to "catch- or keep-up with missed broadcast TV."

Data sourced from Thinkbox; additional content by WARC staff