TV is 94.6% of video advertising

Put another way, for you serious maths geeks, only 5.4% of the video advertising people in the UK see isn’t TV advertising. I’ll explain why in a moment. First, some background:

There is no single source of measurement across all forms of video. So, every year, Thinkbox conducts an analysis of how the video world in the UK looks.

We take the best available data from credible industry sources like the IPA and comScore and use it to estimate how the average person’s video consumption looks – and the average for 16-34s.

TV is undoubtedly changing. This much we know. The shape of our TV viewing is altering with a redistribution of viewing from 100% broadcast to a blend of broadcast and on demand – and that is why it is now vital that advertisers plan across both live TV and BVOD.

But, while embracing change, it is also important to keep perspective. So, let’s look at how the world of video looks, starting with the world of video advertising.

TV is fundamental for getting ads seen

In 2018, TV accounted for 94.6% of video advertising. In 2017 it was 95%, so this is a story of remarkable stability – especially given the continued proliferation of new forms of video advertising.

The remaining 5.4% of total video advertising viewing is shared between YouTube (3%), Facebook and other online video (2%), and cinema advertising (0.4%).

In total, the average person in the UK sees 18.5 minutes of video advertising a day. Only a minute of that is something other than TV.

So, TV is fundamental for getting ads seen – including for 16-34s, for whom TV accounts for 87.2% of their video advertising viewing.

TV is fundamental for getting ads seen

Why does TV account for so much? Because TV’s scale and breadth of high-quality content means it has the capacity to cater for thousands of advertisers simultaneously.

YouTube, for example, doesn’t put advertising within content unless it has reached a certain volume of views and the majority of content on YouTube won’t reach the minimum threshold due to its very long tail.

So, that’s the world of video advertising. Let’s now look at video viewing as a whole…

We watch 4 hours, 41 minutes of video a day

That’s 2 minutes more than in 2017. Broadcaster TV services now account for 69% of this, 2% less than in 2017, due in the main to increased viewing to Subscription VOD (SVOD) services.

The breakdown of TV’s share of video viewing shows how TV viewing has re-distributed, with less live viewing and more on-demand and playback:

  • Live TV: 52.4% of total video viewing (down from 55.7% in 2017)
  • Playback TV (recorded and watched later): 11.8% (up from 11.2%)
  • Broadcaster VOD: 4.5% (up from 3.8%)

Broadcaster TV accounts for 69 percent of our video day

Facebook video is stable

You’ll notice from the chart that Facebook accounted for 1.2% of total video viewing in 2018. It was 1.1% in 2017, so it remains small. It was a similar story for 16-34s, where Facebook went from 1.1% to 1.4%

Our nation’s commitment to pornography was also unwavering, with adult video accounting for 3.6% of video in 2017 and 3.5% in 2018. Total SVOD grew from 6% to 8.9%. And YouTube also increased, from 9% to 11.1% (although not all YouTube usage is viewing – e.g. it often gets used as a jukebox).

Amongst 16-34s, TV accounts for 45.1% of all video viewing

This is down from 50.1% in 2017. Within this, 16-34s’ BVOD viewing grew from 6.4% of their total video to 7.4%, YouTube went from 22.2% to 24.6%, and SVOD increased from 12.2% to 15.7%.


While TV viewing is certainly changing, it is hard to ignore TV’s continued pre-eminence in the overall video advertising landscape.

Crucially, as well as quantity, with TV you also get quality. Only TV ads that are seen in full are counted in the measurement; they are watched with the sound most likely on; watched by humans; and watched in a content environment that is the brand safest around thanks to the high quality of TV’s shows and its strict adherence to regulation.


This is how we do it. Please do get in touch if you have any suggestions about how we could do it better.

The quantitative analysis of total video consumption in the UK was undertaken by Thinkbox. It combined 2018 data from BARB, comScore, the IPA’s Touchpoints and Rentrak box office data.

BARB data shows how much time is spent viewing broadcaster content, live or time-shifted (DTR and VOD) on the TV set. It also records how much time the TV set is being used for other activities such as SVOD, DVDs and gaming. However, BARB is unable to determine what the splits are between each of these different activities.

To determine these, Thinkbox used Touchpoints 2018 to calibrate the BARB data. This survey provides estimates for the time spent split by the different TV set activities and also provides estimates for how much time is spent viewing this content on other devices such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

The combination of these sources creates a solid estimate as it utilises the robustness of BARB data (12,000 panel members, representative of the UK TV population, metered actual consumption data, analysis across a whole year) alongside the detailed splits of viewing activity provided by Touchpoints diary data.

To estimate YouTube, as comScore multi-platform data doesn’t include viewing on TV sets from connected TVs or games consoles, we add in the volume believed to be missing based on Touchpoints data.

As comScore multi-platform data is not available across all sites, the missing portion of mobile viewing for Facebook, other online and Adult XXX is calculated from Touchpoints data.

The analysis also used census level broadcaster stream data to estimate the time spent watching Broadcaster VOD on both the TV set and other devices. Broadcaster first party and survey data was used to estimate the relative size for 16-34s.

Time spent viewing video at cinemas was based on box office sales from Rentrak. 16-34 estimates were generated from the Touchpoints profile data of Cinema goers.

All data is weighted to the entire population based on ONS UK population estimates. 

Video advertising viewing:

YouTube:  YouTube have ceased supplying data on the number of ads served as of January 2017.  As a result, we have had to model the amount of time spent viewing advertising on YouTube based on the relationship between time spent viewing YouTube content and time spent viewing ads on YouTube according to the comScore panel.  This data suggests that 10 mins of YouTube viewing on average converts to 11 seconds of time spent watching advertising.  Live TV converts 72 seconds of time spent viewing ads for every 10 mins of time spent viewing content.  

There are a number of reasons behind why YouTube converts content viewing time to ad viewing time:

  • YouTube don’t put advertising across a vast amount of inventory and the majority of viewing to YouTube is to the long tail.
  • Ads on YouTube are skippable
  • Some users install ad blockers for .com viewing of YouTube.

Other online video includes everything else outside of YouTube, including Facebook and all auto-play advertising across all publishers as reported by comScore. This is also up-weighted to estimate mobile consumption using Touchpoints 2018 data. * ComScore data for ad time significantly dropped in 2018 as they changed the tagging methodology.  Some Ad networks opted for a methodology that excluded length of ad view. To maintain a consistent estimate, we used the average ad view time based on ads view length where the data is available and applied this across all ad starts.

Cinema data is based on Rentrak box office sales and an estimate of 10 minutes ad viewing per film

Broadcaster VOD data is based on impression delivery provided by all broadcasters from their player data alongside average ad impression view-through rates to estimate total time.

Playback and Live TV is based on BARB data.

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