BARB figures show drop in younger TV viewers

09 Jun 2014  |  Ellen Hammett 
BARB figures show drop in younger TV viewers

The BBC and Channel 4 have lost a significant proportion of their younger TV audience over the last three years, according to new BARB figures seen by the i newspaper.

The data reveals that between 2010 and 2013, the TV viewing of the BBC's portfolio of channels by young people, aged between 25 and 34, fell 12% - 5% higher than the market average decline of 7%.

Channel 4's 16-24 year old demographic suffered the most, losing 19% of television viewers, while Sky lost 18% and ITV 13% in the same category.

However, the figures do not include mobile and tablet viewing and could be indicative of an online migration by younger audiences.

Despite losing almost a fifth of its younger viewers, earlier this year Channel 4's database of unique registered users surpassed the 10 million mark - including one in two of all 16-24 year olds in the UK.

Similarly, in March the BBC announced that it will be moving its flagship youth channel, BBC Three, wholly online as the Corporation looks to both make cost savings and to follow younger audiences to new platforms.

Commenting on the BARB figures, a Channel 4 spokesperson said: "Over 2014 our share of young 16-34 viewers is up one per cent year on year - with our young-skewing channel E4 enjoying a record start to the year, up five per cent.

"C4 continues to have a unique appeal with a young audience. In the last three years more than half of the UK's 16-24 year olds have registered with us as part of our viewer engagement strategy."

A statement from the BBC said: "The BBC is committed to all audiences and while across our portfolio we have the highest share of young viewers - and iPlayer is the UK's leading on-demand service - we are working hard to ensure we keep innovating in this area.".

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Neil Mortensen, Research & Planning Director, Thinkbox on 11 Jun 2014
“Thanks to MediaTel for publishing a more reasonable version of the original article as it was full of unsubstantiated copy and sweeping claims.

There are a couple of points I’d like to make. Firstly I agree with Ellen re viewing on other devices. BARB at present only measures TV viewing on a TV set in home. Plans are in motion to capture all TV viewing on all devices as on-demand viewing grows.

Of course with more people able to easily watch on-demand TV, this is likely to have taken a nibble from linear viewing. This is most likely the case for younger audiences who we know are the biggest fans of on-demand TV, although we don’t yet have the means to measure this in totality (but we don't mind where viewers watch their broadcast telly).

Secondly, linear TV viewing in the UK has been breaking records in recent years. It is interesting that the article picks on 2010 for comparison as this just happens to be the highest year for viewing over the past decade (I’m sure that was just coincidence).

This record-breaking could not carry on indefinitely; viewing was inevitably going to level out and we are seeing signs of this. In the first part of 2014, linear TV viewing has been lower than during the equivalent period in 2013. Apart from the growth of on-demand TV the main reasons for the differences in viewing are the weather and the improved economy: both dent TV viewing a little but are great news for TV advertisers.

Despite the drop, linear TV remains hugely significant in young people people’s lives. According to IPA TouchPoints, 15-24 year olds spend 41% of their media day with TV and this is significantly larger than the next biggest medium.

Commercial linear TV alone reaches 89% of 16-34’s a week and this has not reduced over time. It may even go up when the measures for TV viewing on ipads and laptops are included.”

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