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UK youth have varied video diet

News, 16 June 2015

LONDON: Young people in the UK consume less video than the national average and their viewing habits differ widely, although live TV remains the biggest platform, according to a new study.

The Truth about Youth, commissioned from youth research specialists Platypus by commercial TV body Thinkbox, includes qualitative analysis based on feedback from online communities, ethnographic filming, and filmed depth discussions, as well as quantitative analysis based on a variety of published sources.

This found that the daily average time spent watching video in some form amounted to 4 hours and 20 minutes, but among 16-24 year-olds this fell to 3 hours and 30 minutes.

TV viewing – including live, playback and broadcasters' VOD services – dominated video viewing among all ages, but 16-24 year-olds had a more varied video diet. TV accounted for 65% of their total video viewing compared to the UK average of 81%.

Part of the reason for this difference, Thinkbox explained, is the fact that 16-24 year olds are the biggest fans of watching video on new screens, such as tablets and smartphones: 30% of their video viewing is on these devices – double that of the average individual at 15%.

This, in turn, is partly a consequence of their situation, as they will often lack control of the main TV screen in a home, facing competing demands from parents, siblings or friends in shared accommodation. In addition, they simply have more time available to watch content and they can now do so anywhere.

These notions of time and space formed one strand of three interlinking aspects identified by the study as influencing how younger people consume video, the others being identity and social maintenance.

At the younger end of this age spectrum, 14 to 16, people are still forming their identity and look to the experiences of their peers for guidance – one reason vlogging is so popular – while short-from video offers practical help, whether they want to learn the guitar or apply make-up.

Social maintenance, the study continued, comes in both physical and virtual forms. In the case of the former, TV acts to bring people together, through a shared passion or entertainment.

But young people also feel the need to be continually active in the virtual world, to maintain the persona they want to portray. Short-form online video plays an important role here as a currency for gaining kudos amongst friends.

"Different video fulfils different needs and they co-exist happily," said Matt Hill, research and planning director at Thinkbox.

Data sourced from Thinkbox; additional content by Warc staff