Just under half of UK households subscribe to online streaming services as traditional TV viewing time accelerates its decline, according to a new report.

The UK media regulator, Ofcom, published its Media Nations report, which shows that viewer behaviour continues toward alternatives to broadcast TV, namely online video services. A record 47% of British homes now subscribe to either Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV or Disney Life – a full 13.3 million homes.  

Though traditional broadcasting continues to account for the majority of viewing, with people watching a daily average of three hours and 12 minutes of broadcast TV in 2018, it is 11 minutes less than in 2017, which was itself down 9 minutes since 2016. Among young people (16-24), however, the shift was more pronounced with the average 85 minutes of viewing down 15 minutes from 2017.

In comparison, streaming services have seen an average increase of seven minutes in 2018. Again, the trend is pronounced among young people. “The four and a half hours of total video content watched by 16-34s includes three main components: Live TV (83 mins); YouTube (64 mins) and SVoD (52 mins).” Among this demographic, YouTube is the most watched platform. On average, UK adults watch around half an hour of YouTube a day.

More broadly, two-fifths of adults in the UK say streaming services are their favourite way to watch video, while over two thirds (38%) “can imagine not watching broadcast TV at all in five years’ time”.

“The way we watch TV is changing faster than ever before. In the space of seven years, streaming services have grown from nothing to reach nearly half of British homes,” said Yih-Choung The, strategy and research group director at Ofcom.

“But traditional broadcasters still have a vital role to play, producing the kind of brilliant UK programmes that overseas tech giants struggle to match. We want to sustain that content for future generations, so we’re leading a nationwide debate on the future of public service broadcasting.”

BBC and ITV have said they will be launching a new joint service, BritBox, before the new year, while the former has also won approval from Ofcom to make its programming available for longer than the 30-day limit. The regulator hopes this will mean the publicly funded broadcaster “remains relevant”, the FT reported.

For the full data in the report tailored to your interest, see Ofcom’s interactive version of Media Nations 2019.

Sourced from Ofcom, Financial Times