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UK commercial TV viewing H1 increase

August 22, 2016

As Viceland – the new broadcast TV channel from global youth media brand Vice – is set to launch in the UK next month, commercial TV channels in the UK enjoyed a strong beginning to 2016, according to findings from Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK.

UK figures for the first half of this year show that average commercial TV viewing on a TV set increased to 2 hours, 24 minutes a day, an increase of 1 minute on the same period in 2015 and 7 minutes more a day than a decade ago.

Total TV viewing (including BBC channels) decreased slightly year on year to 3 hours, 34 minutes a day –  a decrease of 2 minutes a day. TV’s weekly reach remained stable, at 93.8 per cent of the UK. On average 86 per cent of January-June TV viewing was live.

Commercial TV’s share of total TV viewing during the first six months of 2016 was 67.4 per cent, up from 66 per cent during the same period in 2015.

Additional TV viewing

The figures above are based on the UK industry standard measurement for TV viewing – viewing in home on a TV set within 7 days of the original broadcast, as measured by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB).

BARB’s standard measurement does not include TV watched on other devices, such as tablets and smartphones, nor the increasing amount of viewing on a TV set that now happens after 7 days or out of home.

Including this extra viewing means that overall TV viewing – any time, any place, any screen – during the first half of 2016 increases by 8 minutes a day to total 3 hours, 42 minutes a day.

Commercial TV benefits from BBC Three closure

It is likely that the closure of BBC Three’s broadcast TV channel in February is partly responsible for a dip in BBC TV viewing and commercial TV’s strong performance – in particular the viewing of 16-34s.

According to March-May figures from the BBC, the BBC’s broadcast TV viewing has dropped by 8 per cent compared with the same period last year. The drop is more pronounced among 16-34s – BBC Three’s core audience – for whom viewing dropped by 18 per cent. With iPlayer viewing flat across the same period as reported in the latest iPlayer performance pack, it appears that the BBC has lost the viewing BBC Three previously provided. According to Thinkbox, this underlines the continued importance of having a broadcast TV channel alongside an online VoD service.

During January-June 2016, the overall TV viewing of 16-34 year olds dropped by an average of 3 minutes a day compared with 2015 to 2 hours, 20 minutes a day. However, this decline was entirely borne by BBC channels. Commercial TV viewing saw an increase of 1 minute a day to an average of 1 hour, 49 minutes a day.

Commercial TV channels that cater for 16-34s have benefitted since BBC Three’s closure, with ITV2 experiencing an increase of 27 per cent year on year in time spent viewing across Mar-Jun (with Love Island and Family Guy both having a significant impact) and E4 experiencing an increase of 4 per cent.

Commercial TV accounts for 76.4 per cent of children’s TV viewing

4-15 year olds averaged 1 hour, 41 minutes of TV on a TV set during the first half of the year, 7 minutes less than the same period in 2015.

The majority of 4-15s’ viewing was to commercial TV channels, which accounted for 1 hour, 17 minutes a day, a year on year decline of 3 minutes a day. Any declines for this age group are exaggerated due to the fact that non-TV set viewing, which skews heavily to younger people, is not yet included in the standard measurement figures.

“TV is thriving on all screens, but the importance of TV channels on TV sets cannot be overlooked,” commented Matt Hill, Thinkbox’s Research and Planning Director. “They remain the first port of call for the majority of people of all ages. The apparent boost that commercial TV has received from BBC Three’s disappearance from the schedules underlines this fact – a strategy that is in stark contrast to the imminent arrival of Viceland on commercial TV.”

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