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UK: 70% will use catch-up services over Xmas

UK viewers won’t be tied to the TV schedule this Christmas holiday, according to Ofcom research, which shows they are now using their TV gadgets more than any other major country.

Ofcom research suggests that 70 per cent (31 million) of UK adults will watch TV using free-to-air catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub this December, putting them ahead of all other major European countries and the US, Japan and Australia.

TV viewers in the UK appear to be the most technologically-advanced of European nations, as the growing trend for time-shifted viewing offers an end to the traditional battle for the remote control this Christmas.

Online adults in the UK are the most likely to watch catch-up TV on a tablet (16 per cent) and use an online service to watch TV or films (81 per cent).

Connected TVs providing more viewing options
The UK is also a leader for viewing on connected TVs, with 42 per cent of homes owning a TV connected to the internet – higher than any country sampled except Spain.
As a result, families gathering round for a film this Christmas are increasingly likely to turn to catch-up services like All 4 or Sky-on-Demand.

Seven in ten of the UK’s connected TV owners are watching such content, while more than half (54 per cent) are watching content via a subscription service such as Netflix or Amazon Video Prime.

DVD decline
These shifts are leading to the rapid decline of the DVD player. In every sampled country, a large proportion of people reported watching DVDs or Blu-Ray discs less this year (32 per cent in the UK), while only a small proportion (8 per cent in the UK) say they are doing so more.

These changes in viewing habits are also driven by an increase in the take-up of portable connected devices. More than half (54 per cent) of UK adults now own a tablet, and two-thirds (67 per cent) own a smartphone.

On-demand spending soars
Given UK’s viewers’ appetite for online content, revenue for this sector is rising rapidly. Consumers and advertisers in this country spent £908 million on these services last year, up 44 per cent from £631 million in 2013, and from just £102 million in 2009.

These figures remain small when compared to the overall £14 billion generated by the TV industry in 2014, of which 45 per cent was generated by pay-TV subscriptions.
Around six in ten UK households (59 per cent) had a pay TV service by the end of 2014. Despite this, more than half (51 per cent) of viewing is still to the five major, free-to-air, public-service channels.

James Thickett, Ofcom Director of Research, said: “UK viewers won’t be tied to the TV schedule this Christmas. More than anywhere else, we’re watching TV and films at a time that suits us, on a range of devices, in and out of the home. So this year, more people can fit their festive TV viewing around opening presents and carving the turkey.”

Ofcom’s International Communications Market Report is published annually to compare the availability, take-up and use of communications in the UK against 17 comparator countries. As well as TV and audio-visual services, the report also covers radio, telecoms, post, the Internet and online content.

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