TV broadcasting is rapidly dying in the UK

The decline in traditional television viewing is accelerating in the UK, according to the latest research from regulator Ofcom.

The average time spent watching TV on a TV – whether it’s live, catch-up, on-demand or recorded programs – has fallen to less than three hours a day. This is 20% less than in 2020 and 5% less than 2019, showing that the increase in television viewing during the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns was short-lived .

Television viewing has fallen in all age groups, but particularly among young people. TV viewing fell 23% year-on-year among 16-24 year olds. Compared to 2011, this age group now watches 1h52 less television every day, a decrease of 68%.

In short, traditional television is pretty much dead for young people, with only reality TV shows such as the island of love and news/current affairs programs supporting TV viewing figures for this demographic.

Video on demand booths

Nor has the decline in traditional television viewing been a boon for video-on-demand services, which appear to have reached a saturation point in the UK.

Although two-thirds (67%) of UK households subscribe to at least one streaming service, this number has fallen by 1% year-on-year. Netflix (used by 60% of UK households) and Amazon Prime (46%) both posted slight declines, with Disney+ also plateauing at 23%.

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

Short video

The short video fills the viewing gap, especially among young people. TikTok continues to grow in popularity, with 67% of 15-24 year olds in the UK watching videos on the service. This age group spends almost an hour a day (57 minutes) on TikTok.

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

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