LONDON: Binge-viewing has taken such a hold in the UK that eight in ten adults (79%), or 40m people, use catch-up technology and streaming services to watch multiple episodes in one sitting, a new official study has revealed.

Media regulator Ofcom also reported that around one-third (35%) of British adults do so every week, while more than half (55%) do it on a monthly basis.

The trend has gained such traction that about a third (32%) have missed out on sleep or made themselves tired the next day because they had spent time binge-watching.

These are some of the headline findings in Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2017, a yearly comprehensive analysis of the media landscape in the UK, which also found marked differences between the viewing habits of young and older people.

With the bingeing phenomenon so prevalent, Ofcom dubbed its report “Box Set Britain” and revealed that the habit is most popular among young consumers.

More than half (53%) of those aged 12-15 enjoy “watch-a-thons”, Ofcom said, compared to just 16% of over-65s, more than half (59%) of whom prefer a traditional release of one episode a week.

It has also become clear that the sense of being tied to a TV schedule is fast becoming a thing of the past, with more than a third of consumers watching TV on the move – whether on holiday (24%), commuting (16%) or even in the pub (7%).

Half (51%) also like to watch TV in their bedroom, while others watch programmes in the kitchen (16%), the garden (9%) or the bathroom (9%).

For many, watching TV is now a solo activity, with two in five adults reporting that they watch TV alone every day and almost nine in ten do so at least once a week.

Despite this, nine in ten people watch live TV every week, and family viewing is still seen as an integral part of family life. Almost a third (30%) of adults say their family still watches the same programmes or films together every day, while 70% do so at least once a week.

But when it comes to subscription streaming services, these are used by around three-quarters (76%) of young people aged 16-24, compared to just a fifth (19%) of older people aged 65 and over.

Meanwhile, Ofcom revealed that BBC iPlayer is the most popular on-demand service with 63% of adults saying they use it, followed by ITV Hub (40%), YouTube (38%) and Netflix (31%).

Commenting on the findings, Lindsey Fussell, Consumer Group Director at Ofcom, said: “Technology has revolutionised the way we watch TV. The days of waiting a week for the next episode are largely gone, with people finding it hard to resist watching multiple episodes around the house or on the move.

“But live television still has a special draw, and the power to bring the whole family together in a common experience.”

Data sourced from Ofcom; additional content by WARC staff