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TV viewing expands thanks to On Demand

19 Feb 2013  |  Ellen Hammett 
Connected TV

New figures from BARB show that TV viewing in the UK is continuing to expand as people watch additional content on-demand via TV sets, tablets, smartphones and laptops - yet linear TV still rules the roost.

In total, the average UK viewer watched 4 hours, 1 minute of linear TV a day in 2012 - the year when British television became 100% digital following analogue switch-off.

In the last 10 years, the linear TV viewing average has increased by 27 minutes (23%). BARB further revealed that last year 89.8% of linear TV was watched live, though the BBC coverage of the Olympics did not significantly affect commercial viewing figures overall.

However, the figures do not account for non-television set devices, such as ITV Player, BBC iPlayer and 4OD. According to data supplied to Thinkbox by UK broadcasters, in 2012 people in the UK watched an average of just 3 minutes per day of audio-video content online, a fraction of the linear TV average.

The report also captured results for time-shifted TV viewing, in which linear TV is recorded on to digital TV recorders (DTR), such as Sky+, Freeview+ and Virgin Media's TiVo.

51% of UK households owned a DTR in 2012, a 1% increase to the 2011 figures. Of these households, 81% of time-shifted TV recordings were watched within a week and 47% were viewed within 24 hours.

However, the figures do suggest that the growth of time-shifted TV is slowing down. Thinkbox has predicted that once all households have the ability to digitally record TV programmes, the average level of recorded and playback TV viewing will settle at around 15% of total linear viewing, as it has in those households that do currently own DTRs.

Thinkbox also expected that with the expansion of internet-connected TV sets, viewing which currently takes place on platforms such as laptops and smartphones will transition on to TV sets because people prefer to watch programmes and films on traditional television screens.

Lindsey Clay, Managing Director for Thinkbox, said that "Linear TV is the bedrock of how we watch TV and that is not going to change. Its continued strength underlines viewers' preference for watching TV as it is broadcast and on a TV set.

"Viewing via personal devices, which we have been able to estimate for the first time, is in comparison relatively small, but it is growing rapidly and helping TV as a whole to expand. This is great for viewers who can watch what they want, when they want; and great for advertisers for whom TV - the biggest digital medium - is expanding."

The news comes a week after Intel announced plans to develop their own TV set-top box, and Tesco's trial launch of a new free TV-on-demand service.

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