New figures put TV viewing in perspective

  • For the first time, Thinkbox reports 2015 figures for all TV viewing in the UK on any screen
  • The average viewer in the UK watched a total of 3 hours, 51 minutes of TV a day in 2015
  • Average viewer in the UK spends 4 minutes a day watching TV on devices such as tablets and smartphones
  • 16-24s watch over twice as much TV on other devices as the average viewer
  • TV accounts for 76% of video consumption in the UK
  • YouTube now accounts for 4.4% of video viewing
  • SVOD services, including Netflix and Amazon Prime, together account for 4% of video viewing 

London, 10 March 2016: New figures show that the average TV viewer in the UK watched a total of 3 hours, 51 minutes of TV a day in 2015, 1% less than in 2014 but 5% more than in 2005. This figure, compiled by Thinkbox, comprises all TV viewing watched on any screen in 2015.

For the average viewer, 3 hours, 47 minutes of TV a day is watched on a TV set; 4 minutes is watched on other devices, such as tablets, smartphones and laptops. 

16-24s watched an average of 2 hours, 24 minutes a day of TV in 2015, which breaks down as 2 hours, 14 minutes a day watched on a TV set and 10 minutes watched on other devices. This is 7% less than 2014 and 8% less than 2005. However, TV remains by far the most popular form of video for this age group (see below).

Representing modern TV viewing

Previously, Thinkbox has reported only the UK industry standard measurement for TV viewing – viewing on a TV set within 7 days of the original broadcast, as measured by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) – together with streaming data from the UK Broadcasters for TV viewing on other devices. 

However, as TV viewing has developed, BARB’s figures show that an increasing amount of viewing on a TV set now falls outside standard measurement. An estimated 6.5% of all TV viewing in 2015 fell outside the industry standard. Among 16-24s this increases to 14%.

Total video viewing has increased by 15 minutes a day

According to a new Thinkbox analysis of video viewing – combining comScore data with BARB data, Broadcaster VOD stream data, Rentrak box office numbers and calibrating this metered/census level data with the IPA’s Touchpoints study – the total amount of video the UK is watching has increased. In 2015, the average person in the UK watched 4 hours, 35 minutes a day of video in all its different forms, an increase of 15 minutes a day since Thinkbox first analysed total video time in 2014. 

TV accounts for 76% of video time

TV – live, playback or on-demand across all screens – had a 76% share of total video viewing in 2015. This share is down from 81% in 2014, however this is set against the increase in the overall amount of video being watched. In 2015, the average person in the UK watched just 3 minutes less TV a day than in 2014.

YouTube accounts for 4.4% of video and SVOD 4%

In the UK, YouTube has grown as a proportion of total video in the last year, up from 3.5% in 2014 to 4.4% in 2015. Online ‘adult’ video also accounts for 4.4% of total video, down from 4.6% in 2014. 

Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) viewing – comprised of Netflix, Amazon Prime and other SVOD services – has also grown. In 2015, SVOD accounted for 4% of total video, up from 2.3% in 2014. It is probable that a significant proportion of SVOD growth has come at the expense of DVDs, which accounted for 3.8% of video in 2014 but 2.9% in 2015.

Video viewing on Facebook accounted for 2.2% of total video in 2015, with all other online video – which ranges from that watched on sites such as Vimeo and newspaper and magazine websites through to the long tail of online video – accounting for 5.8%. Year-on-year comparison data for Facebook and all other online video is not available as they were not looked at separately in the 2014 analysis. 

TV dominates young people’s video world

16–24s in the UK watched an average of 3 hours, 25 minutes of video a day in 2015, with TV accounting for 57.5% of the total. They watched over twice as much Broadcaster VOD as the average (7% vs. 3%), twice as much YouTube (10.3% vs. 4.4%) and twice as much SVOD (8.7% vs. 4%).

Younger people are spending more time watching TV and other forms of video online thanks to screens like tablets and smartphones. 38% of 16-24s’ video viewing is on devices compared with 20% for all individuals. 

Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox CEO: “TV has expanded in recent years into new times and places; the way we watch TV is changing. We need to show as accurate a picture as possible of how much TV we are watching – and where TV sits in the emerging video world. With so many different forms of video out there it can be confusing so it is important to get a grip on what is really happening.

“These new figures show that TV dominates the video world for all age groups. Today’s young people watch on-demand forms of video more than the generations before that didn't grow up with them. This makes sense as they do not tend to have control of the TV set and so turn to their personal screens to watch what they want. What is remarkable is that in the last decade, when so many new technologies and services have arrived that could have disrupted TV, TV viewing has remained so dominant.” 

Total video consumption UK 2015

For more on TV viewing, visit thinkbox.tv.

Recently published figures show that TV advertising revenue in the UK totalled £5.27 billion in 2015, up 7.4% on 2014. This is the sixth consecutive year that TV advertising revenue has grown in the UK. 

Based on data from Nielsen, the continued growth has been fuelled by increased investment in all major marketing categories, with significant growth coming from online companies. Online businesses invested over £500 million in TV in 2015, an increase of 14% on 2014. Facebook was the year’s biggest new to TV advertiser, investing £10.8 million. In total, there were 877 new or returning advertisers on TV in 2015 (brands that went on TV for the first time or returned to TV after no TV advertising for at least five years).                    



Press contact: Simon Tunstill | Head of Communications, Thinkbox | [email protected] | 020 7630 2326020 7630 2326


For total TV viewing:

Average TV viewing time is based on the BARB universe (58.3 million) which includes all Individuals aged 4 and over with a TV set in their home. This data excludes all out of home viewing such as pubs & hotels and also excludes viewing among students.

The total figure for TV viewing includes the following: 

3 hours, 36 minutes: Industry standard viewing (on a TV within 7 days of broadcast [source: BARB])

11 minutes: Additional viewing on a TV set (playback or VOD viewing on a TV set 8 or more days after broadcast; broadcaster box set / film VOD viewing [source: BARB/UK TV broadcasters])

4 minutes: Additional viewing on other devices (live, catch-up VOD and box set / film VOD viewing [source: UK TV broadcasters])

For total video viewing:

Thinkbox has calculated how the average person’s video day breaks down by combining comScore with BARB data, Broadcaster VOD stream data, Rentrak box office numbers and calibrating this metered/census level data with the IPA’s Touchpoints study (real time, single source diary data from 5,000 people in the UK). 

As the total video day calculation combines viewing of different forms of video using different sources Thinkbox based average viewing time on the UK population as a whole (64.6 million) according to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics.  This effectively reduces the average TV viewing time per person, but enabled Thinkbox to join together time spent viewing different forms of video on a like-for-like basis.

About Thinkbox

Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. It works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get the best out of today’s TV. 

Its shareholders are Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations and UKTV, who together represent over 99% of commercial TV advertising revenue through their owned and partner TV channels. Associate Members are Discovery Networks Norway, Disney, London Live, RTL Group, TalkTalk, Think TV (Australia), Think TV (Canada), TV Globo (Brazil), TV2 (Norway) and Virgin Media. Discovery Channel UK, UTV and STV also give direct financial support.

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, uncovering what the latest technological developments mean, explaining innovative and affordable solutions, and encouraging creativity to providing the rigorous proof of effectiveness that advertisers need, Thinkbox is here to help businesses meet their marketing objectives. 

In recent years, Thinkbox has won a number of awards including Media 360’s Industry Body of the Decade; Best Business to Business Marketing at The Marketing Society Awards for Excellence; the Grand Prix award for Best Media Research of the Year from the Media Research Group; the awards for Advertising and Media Research from the Market Research Society; Research Team of the Year from Mediatel; and its TV advertising has been awarded by The British Television Advertising Awards/ The British Arrows, the APA, D&AD and Creative Circle. Thinkbox’s ‘Harvey the dog ad’ was voted 2010’s Ad of the Year by a poll of ITV viewers, with the follow up TV Ad – ‘Harvey & Rabbit’ – appearing in Nielsen’s study of the Most Liked Ads of 2012 and Campaign’s Top 10 TV & Cinema Ads of 2012. ‘Harvey & Harmony’, the third ad in the Harvey series, was one of the nation’s top ten most liked ads of 2015 (source: Ebiquity / TNS). www.thinkbox.tv 

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