UK report: As TV viewing slows, OTT grows

TV viewing by Gen Edge (16-24 year olds) and children has fallen 27% and 26% respectively in the past five years, the United Kingdom telecom regulator Ofcom reported Thursday in its latest market report. Overall TV viewing has declined less sharply, about 26 minutes a day, in the past five years.

Live TV has decreased more than any other activity, among younger viewers (42 mins for 16-24s and 37 mins for 25-34s), with on-demand viewing largely replacing that time (43 mins and 20 mins respectively).

Interestingly, seven of the top ten most popular media multi-tasking combinations involved live TV but none involved on-demand. Ofcom posits that the cause likely is content has been actively chosen keeps viewers’ attention better.

Ofcom also said the increased availability of on-demand services on multiple devices was a major factor in the decline, pointing out that among 16-24 year olds, time spent watching live television has declined to 36% of total viewing time. It’s largely been replaced by free and paid on-demand video, which, with shortform included, makes up about 50% of group’s viewing.

SVOD services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video also are on the uptick, with 59% of adults using a video on demand service in 2015, a 2% bump from 2014.

Regardless, Ofcom said the TV industry clocked in at £13.6 billion ($17.9 billion) in 2015, with pay-TV subscription revenue topping £6 billion ($7.9 billion), and ad revenues of more than £4 billion ($5.25 billion) for commercial TV.

Spending on content in the U.K., driven by live premium sports spending by BT and Sky, topped £6.5 billion ($8.5 billion).

But traditional TV remains the biggest player in the arena with 63% of all adults’ viewing time spent with live TV, 83% for the over-65s.

But younger viewers are watching less live TV and more on-demand content, which is leading to increased use of on-demand and online services; an average fixed broadband line is churning through 41% more data each month in June 2015 than a year ago.

Strong growth in smartphones and tablets

Smartphone ownership has increase over the past year to 71% of all adults, up from 61% in 2014.

And, said, Ofcom, well more than half (59%) of households have at least one tablet computer, 5% higher than a year ago. Smart TV ownership also has increased, with 27% of households owning one, compared to 20% a year ago. Games console ownership, meanwhile, is down to 44% from 49% a year ago.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn