• January 26, 2023

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The decline in traditional broadcast TV viewing is gathering pace in the U.K., according to the latest research from regulator Ofcom.

The average amount of time spent watching television on a TV set – be that live broadcast, catch-up, on-demand or recorded programs – has fallen to below three hours per day. That’s 20% lower than in 2020 and 5% lower than in 2019, showing that the increase in TV viewing during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns was short-lived.

TV viewing dropped across all age groups, but particularly amongst the young. Broadcast TV viewing fell 23% year-on-year among 16 to 24-year-olds. Compared to 2011, that age group now watches 1 hour and 52 minutes less television each day, a fall of 68%.

In short, traditional broadcast television is practically dead to the young, with only reality shows such as Love Island and the news/current affairs programs propping up that demographic’s TV viewing figures.

Video-on-demand stalls

The decline in traditional TV viewing hasn’t been a boon for video-on-demand services, either, which seem to have reached saturation point in the U.K.

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Although two thirds (67%) of U.K. households subscribe to at least one streaming service, there was a 1% year-on-year decline in that number. Netflix (used by 60% of U.K. households) and Amazon Prime (46%) both showed slight decreases, with Disney+ also hitting a plateau at 23%.

Ofcom warns these figures could decline further with recent price rises and clamp downs on password sharing. Disney+ subscribers were most likely to share a password with someone they didn’t live with, with 17% of customers admitting to doing that.

Short-form video

Short-form video is filling the viewing gap, especially amongst the young. TikTok continues to boom in popularity, with 67% of 15 to 24-year-olds in the U.K. watching video on the service. That age group spends almost an hour a day (57 mins) on TikTok.

Videos uploaded by friends and family (94%) and content created by influencers (92%) were the most popular short-form genres among 15 to 17-year-olds. Ironically, clips of TV content were also popular, with 45% of adults saying they liked to watch comedy TV clips on such services.

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