UK watched over 30 hours of linear TV a week in Q1

- New technology, updated measurement, and the economy are all responsible for rise in viewing -
- Thinkbox predicts that soaring broadcast TV viewing levels will stabilise soon -
- 6.9% of TV viewing is 'timeshifted' -

London, 4 May, 2010: New figures show that people in the UK watched 30 hours, 4 minutes of linear, broadcast TV a week during the first quarter (Jan-Mar) of 2010. This is an increase of 2 hours, 29 minutes on the same period last year with growth seen across every age group.

The increase in viewing is due to a number of causes, including:

  • Greater choice of TV to watch as more households have digital TV (now 93.9%);
  • An updated TV measurement system, launched in January, which more accurately captures viewing of second TV sets and on-demand TV;
  • New TV technologies (such as digital TV recorders, now in 44% of homes) that enhance the TV experience and magnetise viewers to TV sets;
  • On-demand TV services which encourage people to watch broadcast schedules. 78% of people watch on-demand TV mainly to catch- or keep-up with missed broadcast TV (source: Work Research/Thinkbox).
  • The economic recession encouraging people to stay in more.

The official figures, from The Broadcasters' Audience Research Board's updated measurement panel (BARB) and published in Thinkbox's Q1 Review, show that commercial broadcast TV viewing accounted for 61.46% of total viewing in Q1. The average viewer watched 18 hours, 29 minutes of commercial TV a week in Q1, up by an hour on the same period last year.

Commercial TV viewing was also up by 1 hour, 28 minutes on the five year average for Q1, which reveals the general trend of growth in commercial TV.

The figures, which do not include TV viewed on devices other than TV sets, underline the continuing popularity of the linear TV schedule in the UK as on-demand TV services are increasingly available to and used by viewers - primarily to catch- or keep-up with broadcast schedules.

Non-live, 'time-shifted' viewing accounted for a total of 6.9% of the UK's TV consumption in Q1. In households that have digital television recorders such as Sky+ or Freeview+, timeshifting represented a larger proportion of TV viewing (13.7%). 80.2% of timeshifted viewing took place within 7 days of the original broadcast; time-shifted and on-demand viewing that occurred after 7 days is not included in the BARB figures.

The growth comes as a number of recent reports - including from Enders Analysis, the IPA and Screen Digest - have forecast growth in TV advertising investment in 2010.

Tess Alps, Thinkbox's chief executive: "Anyone who doubted the continuing importance and popularity of broadcast TV in the UK should hopefully be convinced by these new figures.

"However, record levels are unlikely to continue. We are nearing the peak, if we are not there already. Once analogue signals are finally turned off in 2012, the figures are likely to stabilise, but hopefully will remain at these high levels.

"Advertisers are taking advantage of the continued growth in commercial TV and its proven ability to deliver profit to the bottom line, and this is reflected in the forecasts for growth this year."

The increase in commercial viewing has also meant an increase in the number of ads people watch. Commercial impacts in Q1 - the number of ads watched at normal speed - were up 4.9% on the same period last year and 22% over the last five years. The average viewer watched 48 ads a day in Q1 compared to 45 ads on the same period last year.


Press contact: Simon Tunstill | Head of PR, Thinkbox | [email protected] | 020 7630 2326

About Thinkbox

Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. Its shareholders are Channel 4, Five, GMTV, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations and Viacom, who together represent over 90% of commercial TV advertising revenue through their owned and partner TV channels. Thinkbox works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get the best out of today's TV.

TV today has more to offer advertisers than ever before, not least because this growing medium remains at the heart of popular culture and advertising effectiveness. From understanding how audiences engage with TV advertising, explaining innovative and affordable solutions, to providing the rigorous proof of effectiveness that advertisers need, Thinkbox is here to help customers meet their marketing objectives.