Research: BARB says linear TV still popular in UK

TV viewing figures reveal that people in the UK watched an average of 27 hours, 34 minutes of live, linear TV each a week during July to September 2010 (3 hours, 56 minutes a day), with growth across every age group. This represents an increase of 1 hour, 50 minutes on the same period last year, according to figures from The Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board’s (BARB) updated measurement panel .

Within the total viewing figure (which includes viewing of BBC channels), commercial TV continued to perform strongly. Commercial TV accounted for 62 per cent of TV viewing with the average UK viewer watched 17 hours, 5 minutes of linear, commercial TV channels a week during the period (2 hours, 26 minutes a day). This represents an increase of 49 minutes a week on the same period last year and of 1 hour, 22 minutes on the five year average viewing time for the period.

Reasons behind the continued growth, according to Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, include: Greater choice of TV to watch as more households switch to digital ; An updated TV measurement system, launched in January, which more accurately captures viewing of second TV sets and on-demand TV; New TV technologies (such as digital TV recorders) that enhance the TV experience and magnetise viewers to TV sets; On-demand TV services which send people back to the broadcast schedules (eighty-nine per of people watch on-demand TV mainly to catch- or keep-up with missed broadcast TV). The economic recession encouraging people to stay in more is also cited as a factor.

According to Thinkbox, the figures, which do not include TV viewed on devices other than TV sets, underline the primacy of the live TV schedule in the UK. BARB figures suggest that non-live, ‘time-shifted’ viewing accounted for 6.8 per cent of the UK’s TV consumption during the period. In households that own digital television recorders, such as Sky+ or Freeview+, timeshifting represented a slightly larger proportion of TV viewing at 13.3 per cent.

“It is increasingly obvious that viewers want to watch TV live and as it happens; they turn to on-demand services primarily to catch-up with something they’ve missed,” noted Tess Alps, Thinkbox’s chief executive. “These new figures reiterate the enormous appeal of linear TV in the UK as new ways to watch TV grow. This enduring popularity stems from a basic human desire to share experiences and it shows no sign of diminishing,” she said.

The increase in commercial viewing also led to an increase in the number of TV ads viewed. Commercial impacts (the number of ads watched at normal speed) during January to September were up five per cent on the same period last year, and have grown by 21.3 per cent over the last five years to a new record high. The average viewer watched 44 ads a day during January to September compared to 43 ads on the same period last year.

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