TV viewing in 2014

In 2014, total average daily TV viewing in the UK during 2014 was 3 hours, 44 minutes, 30 seconds a day per person.

Overall, there was a decline in total TV viewing of 10 minutes, 30 seconds a day compared to 2013, a fall of 4.5%. This was entirely down to a drop in TV set viewing, which decreased by 4.7%. Viewing on other screens, such as tablets and laptops, grew year on year by 17%.

Taking the long-term perspective though, TV set viewing is higher than it was 10 years ago.

Nonetheless, the decline needs scrutiny.

Why has viewing declined?

TV viewing has always gone up and down for various reasons and for all age groups – for instance, there was a boom during the recent recession and the bad winter years and a boom during the digital switchover as more people got more channels to choose from. But the switchover effect has worn off and 2014’s dip is not solely down to the improving weather or economy.


Heavy TV viewers are watching less

Remarkably, 95% of the dip in TV set viewing is accounted for by heavy TV viewers – those who were watching on average over 4 hours a day – watching a bit less. The number of these heavy viewers declined by 7.2% between 2013 and 2014.

This helps explain why TV’s reach has stayed virtually the same (94.6% a week in 2013 vs. 94.2% in 2014). It isn’t that people have stopped watching linear TV; it is that those who were watching the most watched a bit less.


Live continues to thrive as playback settles

In 2014, 88% of all TV set viewing was watched live compared to 89% in 2013 (there is no data yet to show what proportion of TV watched on other screens is live-streamed).

Specifically in the 58% of households that own a digital television recorder, 83% of TV on a TV set in 2014 was watched live compared to 84% in 2013. So the level of non-live viewing (i.e. playback and VOD within 7 days on a TV set) seems to be settling around the 15-20% mark.

48% of all recorded viewing was watched within 24 hours of recording and 81% watched within two days, demonstrating viewers’ desire to stay close to the live schedules.

Commercial TV dominates viewing and we watched 45 ads a day

65.8% of TV set viewing in 2014 was to commercial TV channels, meaning that the average person watched 2 hours 25 minutes of commercial TV a day. Commercial impacts during 2014 decreased by 3.6% compared with 2013. Taking a broader perspective, they have grown by 27% over the last ten years. The average viewer watched 45 ads a day – 7 ads more a day than ten years ago. Collectively the UK watched an average of 2.65 billion ads a day in 2014.


Younger people watched less TV, but TV remains the dominant youth medium

Commercial TV proved especially popular with younger audiences, accounting for 74.8% of 16-34s’ TV viewing.

Young people are watching less TV, but it needs to be seen in a grown up context. 16-34s watched 7.1% less TV on TV sets in 2014 compared to 2013. But they are the fastest adopters of viewing TV via other screens. There are no official BARB figures for that yet but our educated guess would place it at about an extra 4-5% of TV viewing, which compares with the extra 1.6% for the average population.

But from other respected sources like IPA Touchpoints it's clear that TV remains the most popular medium for young people (41% of their chosen media time) with its reach and cultural influence undiminished. You just need to look at what young people are commenting about on social media to see the role TV plays in their lives.

TV viewing in 2014

TV continues to be our favourite leisure pursuit; we’re watching lots and lots of it on more screens and in more places than before.

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