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Research: Brits spend 14% of life watching TV

Britain is a nation of TV addicts, according to new research that reveals Britons spend more than seven full weeks a year in front of the telly, which adds up to a massive 9.5 years over an adult lifetime – that’s a seventh (14 per cent) of our lives.

The new nationwide study of 2,000 people across the UK shines a spotlight on our current TV habits and opinions about acceptable viewing etiquette. The average person watches an average of 24 hours of TV a week; over a third (37 per cent) eat at least one meal in front of the TV every day; and the average household now has four different devices they watch TV on.

The survey was commissioned by uktvplay.co.uk, which allows viewers to watch content from Dave, Drama, Really and Yesterday on demand. The findings reveal that 15 per cent of Britons claim to watch the majority of TV via on demand services rather than live, which significantly increases for those aged between 18 – 24 (33 per cent). Similarly for this age group, over a third (37 per cent) prefer to use tablets, mobiles or laptops instead of a television set.

Goggling the Box

As the average person watches 24 hours of TV a week, 40 per cent are revealed to watch at least 26 hours of TV a week, with a dedicated 7 per cent of Britons watching up to 40 hours every week – over 5 and half hours a day. But it’s the Geordies who take the crown for being the biggest TV addicts in Britain, with 52 per cent of respondents from the North East admitting they regularly watch over 26 hours a week, and 15 per cent claiming they watch in excess of 40 hours of TV on a weekly basis. Those based in the East Midlands spend the least time glued to the box, only averaging 21 hours per week. On average, 63 per cent of people indulge in alcohol while watching TV, proving that Britain has become a nation of ‘tellyholics’. Men are the most likely to reach for the bottle (66 per cent versus 59 per cent of women) but it’s the Welsh who are the most indulgent, with 70 per cent of respondents enjoying alcohol while watching the box. The Northern Irish are the least likely to enjoy a drink with their evening viewing, with only 43 per cent claiming they do.

Telly Binges

The average British person will happily spend four hours in front of a single show. Young people are most likely to watch shows in bulk: 18-24 year olds spend an average of five hours in front of their favourite show, whereas those aged 55 and over, switch off after just three hours. Furthermore, when asked what the most important feature a catch up service should offer, 38 per cent of people responded that collections were their top priority – so it looks as though telly binging is a habit that is here to stay.

Men vs Women

The survey reveals that women and men share similar at-home TV habits; both watching an average of 24 hours a week and preferring to switch off the box by 11pm each night. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this makes for harmonious telly watching, as when asked to choose just one genre to watch for the rest of their lives, the majority of men chose comedy (30 per cent), whereas women preferred drama (43 per cent). Women are also more likely to say its bad form to change the channel if they’re already watching a show (18 per cent), whereas men are more relaxed about channel-changing, as only 12 per cent say this is irritating behaviour.

Multitasking

While TV viewing remains the preserve of shared family time (40 per cent), 17 per cent of people surveyed also enjoy watching TV with friends and housemates, and over a third (36 per cent) admit to watching the bulk of their TV alone. West Midlanders are most likely to watch TV on their own (42 per cent), followed by those in London (40 per cent), while people in Northern Ireland are most likely to watch with family (48 per cent). It seems TV watching is also a multitasking activity for many, with 46 per cent of Britons regularly using a phone or a tablet at the same time as watching television programmes.

This multitasking isn’t limited to the use of other devices, with people revealing they eat in front of the TV six times per week on average, while only 15 per cent preferring not to eat in front of the TV at all. This multitasking continues at work, 19 per cent will admit to watching TV in the workplace; over half (56 per cent) of which are cheeky enough to do so right at their desks and a sly 9 per cent going to the workplace bathroom. Londoners are most likely to have pulled a sickie to catch up on their favourite show (12 per cent), followed by those in Wales (11 per cent) – whereas South Westerners (4 per cent) are least likely to bunk off work for a telly catch-up.

The Top Ten Commandments of modern TV Etiquette, as voted for by Brits:

  • It is acceptable to eat in front of the TV – 39 per cent

  • People should not hog the remote – 24 per cent

  • Adverts must be as entertaining as the show – 24 per cent

  • Channel surfing is a turn-off – 16 per cent

  • It’s not OK to demand a channel change if you’re a new addition to the room – 15 per cent

  • You should always check someone’s seen a show before talking about spoilers – 15 per cent

  • It’s unacceptable to talk to people while they are watching TV – 13 per cent

  • It’s fine to watch TV in bed on a computer / tablet / phone – 13 per cent

  • Entire weekends are there for binge-watching shows – 13 per cent

  • Couples should not kiss / ‘make out’ in front of the TV if there are other people in the room – 9 per cent

According to UKTV’s Controller Emma Tennant, it’s amazing how many hours of small screen time we rack up in a lifetime – which is testament to the great programmes available to enjoy. “It seems we are also increasingly taking TV out of our living rooms to watch on the go and create our own TV schedules by watching even more shows on catch up services like uktvplay.co.uk,” she suggested.

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