Research: UK media consumption at limit

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Consumers in the UK are barely increasing their time spent with media, and similar to the rest of the world, time spent with mobile becomes a major driver of digital growth, according to research firm eMarketer.

In 2019, consumers will spend 9 hours, 38 minutes (9:38) with media, a 1-minute increase from last year. That figure will increase by 2 minutes in 2020 before beginning to plateau. Digital media made up 54.7 per cent of time spent, up from 52.4 per cent last year, picking up the slack for declines in traditional media.

Digital consumption in the UK, as elsewhere in the world, is growing. This year, adults will spend 5:16 on digital, a 13-minute increase from the year before, and that figure will grow to 5:27 next year. Within digital, we estimate that consumers will spend 3:32 on mobile.

Adults in the UK will spend 2:37 with traditional TV, a 9-minute drop from last year. Next year, that figure will drop even further to 2:30.

Time spent with video overall in the UK remains static, but traditional TV consumption is steadily decreasing while the share of time spent on digital video is growing. Much of this traditional content consumption is simply being ported to digital channels. One example of this is the coverage of the FIFA World Cup in 2018, with the BBC reporting that requests for either live streamed or on-demand coverage reached record levels. The quarter-final match against Sweden was the BBC’s highest online-viewed live programme ever.

“There’s a misconception that people are spending less and less time watching TV,” said Bill Fisher, eMarketer’s UK senior analyst. “Sure, they’re spending less time watching TV on a TV set, but much of their digital video consumption is of TV-like content. From live sports to long-form content via Netflix-like platforms, UK consumers still spend considerable amounts of time with video.”

Digital video growth has come primarily from increased smartphone usage. Adults in the UK will spend 0:45 with video on smartphones this year, a big increase from the 0:27 spent in 2017. By 2021, that figure will reach 0:58. Time spent with video on desktop/laptop and tablets has remained nearly flat since 2015.

“Smartphones continue to be the growth driver for time spent with video,” Fisher said. “But unlike some countries in Asia-Pacific, where mobile is the entry point for most digital activities, other devices are retaining some of their traction, they aren’t seeing declines, at least—as UK consumers extract as much digital use from as many digital devices as they can.”


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