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Linear TV viewing continues decline in UK

Average daily viewing on the TV set fell by 11 minutes in 2014 compared to 2013 according to Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report. This is the second consecutive year of decline, following a nine-minute decline in 2013 compared to 2012.

Key findings from the report, using BARB measurements, include:

• In 2014 the average number of minutes of broadcast TV, watched on a TV set, was 220 minutes per person (aged 4 and above) per day; 11 minutes less than in 2013. The fall, of 4.9 per cent year on year, represents the second consecutive year of decline.

• The entire year-on-year drop in viewing can be attributed to a decline in viewing of traditional TV (watching programmes at the time of broadcast). Despite an increase in time-shifted viewing (+1 minute) this was not enough to compensate for the 12-minute decline in traditional TV viewing, resulting in an 11 minute decline in broadcast TV viewing overall.

• The average proportion of the TV population who watch TV each week fell slightly year on year, from 93.4 per cent to 92.4 per cent. However, in terms of volume, the number of people watching TV each week increased from 53.9 million to 54.1 million viewers between 2013 and 2014.

• The decline was seen across all ages, but was more pronounced among the under-45 age groups, with the greatest proportional drop among children aged 4-15 (-12.4 per cent), followed by the 25-34 group (-8.8 per cent) and 35-44s (-8.0 per cent). Viewing among the over-65s fell the least; by 0.3 per cent.

• Among children, 16-24 year olds and 35-44 year olds, average daily viewing has fallen every year since 2010, while viewing among other age groups has fluctuated across this period. Since 2012, however, all age groups have had year-on-year declines in daily TV viewing.

• TV viewing fell across all channel groups between 2013 and 2014. Viewing to ITV-owned channels fell the most; falling by 5 mins/ day (-3 mins to ITV and -1.8 mins to the ITV portfolio). In total, declines in viewing to ITV channels accounted for over 40 per cent of the total fall in viewing.

• BARB data suggest that about half of the decline in viewing may have shifted to 8-28 day catch-up and other (unknown) content on the TV set. Analysis of viewing on the TV set shows that there was a one-minute increase in 8-28 day average daily time-shifted viewing per person (from four minutes to five minutes) and a three-minute increase in ‘unmatched’ viewing (this includes apps on smart TVs, gaming and subscription video on-demand services such as Netflix), from 26 to 29 minutes.

• A number of other factors may also explain the decline in traditional TV viewing. These include rising employment, a lack of high-rating events programming as seen in 2011 and 2012, the weather, increase in take-up of non-broadcast on-demand services and increase in use of other devices to watch AV content.

• The average proportion of the TV population who watch TV16 each week (average weekly
reach) fell slightly year on year, from 93.4 per cent to 92.4 per cent.

• However, as estimates indicate, the UK population has increased, and so too has the number of people watching TV each week. Therefore, expressed as a volume, average weekly reach increased from 53.9 million to 54.1 million viewers between 2013 and 2014. Overall, these findings (combined with the fall in average broadcast TV viewing minutes explained below), suggest that more people are watching TV but for less time.

• The average number of minutes watched by individuals in 2014 was 220 minutes per person/per day (3 hours 40 minutes), 11 minutes per day less than in 2013. The fall, of 4.9 percent year on year, represents the second consecutive year of decline, following a nine-minute decline between 2012 and 2013.

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