The average viewer in the UK watched a total of 3 hours and 51 minutes of TV a day in 2015 but of this, only 4 minutes (less than 2%) a day was watched on non-TV devices like tablets, laptops and smartphones. The other three hours and 47 minutes was consumed on a television set. Young people aged 16-24 years-old watched an average of 2 hours, 24 minutes a day of TV in 2015, which breaks down as 2 hours and 14 minutes a day watched on a TV set and 10 minutes (or 7%) watched on other devices. This research from Thinkbox, released earlier this month, points to the television set still dominating viewing of television content â€“ defined as content made available from broadcasters via any platform, including linear, recorded and on-demand.
Matt Hill, Research and Planning Director at Thinkbox (the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK) says television content is unique when it comes to how much the television set dominates viewing, and it is not because TV content is not available on other devices, via apps. He thinks it demonstrates a continued affinity with the television set itself, including among the young, and he does not think this is about to change. Given the proliferation of connected devices (and the availability of broadcast content on them) he thinks these figures reflect mature behaviours. â€œWe are advanced in terms of mobile device penetration and broadband capacity. There is nothing to suggest there will be a sudden step-change in how people watch this content now.â€
These multiscreen viewing figures are for television content, it must be stressed, not for the wider â€˜videoâ€™ category that includes SVOD and other online video. There, the propensity for multiscreen viewing is higher. A few years ago there might have been an obvious explanation for why non-TV video is watched more on multiscreen devices than television, before SVOD apps and YouTube were found on most Smart TVs, streamer box platforms and even hybrid broadcast broadband (free-to-air platform) set-top boxes. Today, non-TV content is widely available on the television set, just as television content is widely available on non-TV devices.
Hill says the demand for live content partly explains the attraction of TV screens for television viewing, and points to previous Thinkbox research as a clue to what is going on. The ‘Screen Life’ study from 2013 identified various emotional needs, a number of which, like â€˜Comfortâ€™ (providing shared family time, togetherness, rituals, familiarity and routine) and â€˜Experienceâ€™ (a need for fun and a sense of occasion to be shared) are served by the television set.
When all video viewing is taken into account, covering television and non-TV, 38% of the viewing by 16-24 year-olds is on multiscreen devices. So multiscreen consumption is a fact of life, as we have been told repeatedly â€“ it is just that in the UK it is a far less significant fact of life for television content. Among all ages, 20% of all video viewing is on multiscreen devices.
The latest Thinkbox study threw up lots of interesting statistics:
- 16-24s watched 7% less television last year than in 2014 (8% less than in 2005).
- This age group watched an average of 3 hours and 25 minutes of video a day in 2015.
- TV therefore accounted for 57.5% of the total video viewing within the 16-24 age group.
- This age group watched over twice as much broadcaster VOD than the average person (7% vs 3%).
- 16-24s watched twice as much YouTube as the average (10.3% vs 4.4%).
- They also watched twice as much SVOD as the average (8.7% vs 4%).
- Among all age groups, TV accounts for 76% of all video consumption in the UK â€“ down from 81% in 2014.
- In 2015, the average person in the UK watched 4 hours and 35 minutes a day of video in all its different forms, an increase of 15 minutes a day since Thinkbox first analysed total video time in 2014.
- In 2015 the average person in the UK watched three minutes (or 1%) less TV a day than the previous year.
- 2014 television viewing levels (for all ages) were 5% higher than in 2005.
- Video viewing on Facebook accounted for 2.2% of total video in 2015.
According to Lindsey Clay, CEO at Thinkbox: â€œâ€œThese new figures show that TV dominates the video world for all age groups. Todayâ€™s young people watch on-demand forms of video more than the generations before that didn’t grow up with them. This makes sense as they do not tend to have control of the TV set and so turn to their personal screens to watch what they want. What is remarkable is that in the last decade, when so many new technologies and services have arrived that could have disrupted TV, TV viewing has remained so dominant.â€