Although the BBC has released figures indicating record online and catch-up viewing during the London Olympics, findings from the first half of the year suggest that linear TV channels are people’s preferred way to watch TV.
Ninety per cent of linear TV viewing in the UK was of live, scheduled TV channels during the first half of 2012, according to figures from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB). According to the BARB figures, reported by Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, non-live, ‘time-shifted’ viewing accounted for 10 per cent of the UK’s TV consumption during January to June 2012. This has increased from 9 per cent in the same period in 2011.
In households that own digital television recorders (51 per cent of households, up from 47 per cent in 2011), average time-shifting represented 15.9 per cent of total viewing. This figure has increased from 14.7 per cent in the same period last year.
Almost half (47 per cent) of all recorded TV viewing is viewed on the same day as the live broadcast, showing that viewers want to stay as close to the broadcast schedule as possible.
In terms of linear TV viewing, commercial TV viewing during the first half of the year grew by a minute a day to an average of 2 hours and 36 minutes a day per viewer. This represented 67 per cent of all linear TV viewing in the UK. For people in the UK aged 16-34, commercial TV accounted for 72 per cent of their linear viewing.
BARB’s figures show that 94 per cent of UK individuals are watching commercial linear TV at least once a week; 99 per cent in a month.
BARB notes that after recent years of record growth, key advertiser audiences saw their commercial viewing stabilise. ABC1 adults watched 2 hours 7 minutes of commercial TV (the same as in 2011); men watched 2 hours 33 minutes a day (2 minutes less a day than in 2011); and 16-34s watched 2 hours 9 minutes each day (a minute more a day than 2011).
In total, the average viewer watched 4 hours and 1 minute of linear TV (including BBC channels) a day during January to June 2012. This is two minutes a day less than the record level set during same period last year and shows that, as predicted, linear TV viewing is now stabilising around the four hours a day mark.
Total linear TV viewing has grown by 6.5 per cent (16 minutes) a day in the last five years.
BARB’s figures show that entertainment and drama were the most popular commercial TV genres in the first half of the year, claiming 25 per cent and 21 per cent of viewing respectively
Thinkbox notes that the many new ways to watch TV – some live streamed but mainly on-demand – via other screens such as laptops, tablets and smartphones are certainly growing, and a welcome solution to out-of-home viewing, but they are not included in BARB’s figures and are not impacting on linear viewing. BARB has been monitoring this additional viewing since 2005. Its figures suggest that there is 1.2 per cent of extra TV viewing via other devices, 2.9 per cent for 16-34 year olds.
The number of TV ads watched at normal speed during the first six months of 2012 reached a new high. In total, the UK watched 491 billion TV ads during January to June, an increase of 1.6 per cent on the same period in 2011. That represents an average of 47 ads a day per person and an increase of 13 per cent on the five year average for the period.
Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox’s Managing Director, said that as predicted, there were signs linear viewing levels would stabilise around the four-hour mark after the sustained period of record growth. “We’d be surprised if there was further growth in total linear viewing as hopefully the economy will improve and we’ll leave the house more – plus more people now have on-demand fully integrated on their TV sets and the stimulus of digital switchover is drawing to a close. However, our preference for watching TV live will remain and overall we’re likely to be watching more TV as a result,” she suggested.