Viewing figures for 2013 show importance of the TV set

  • Remaining 1.5% of TV viewing was on other screens such as tablets
  • Average viewer watched just over 3 hours, 55 minutes of TV a day during 2013
  • Commercial TV increased share of linear viewing from 66% to 68%
  • Number of TV ads watched up 1.6% on 2012; a growth of 10.4% over the last five years

London, 17 February 2014: Full year TV viewing figures for 2013 show that the TV set remains the centre of people’s TV viewing, accounting for 98.5% of total viewing. Non-TV set screens such as tablets and laptops accounted for the remaining 1.5%, up from 1.2% of total viewing in 2012.

Total average daily TV viewing in the UK during 2013 was 3 hours, 55 minutes, 30 seconds a day per person. This comprised:

  • 3 hours, 52 minutes a day of linear TV on a TV set. Excellent weather in 2013, which always affects TV viewing, and the fact that there were no significant sporting events have contributed to this being 9 minutes a day less than 2012. However the overall trend for viewing remains strong with the average viewer watching 12 minutes more TV a day in 2013 than ten years ago and (source: Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board [BARB] and UK Broadcaster data). The World Cup in 2014 is likely to boost linear TV viewing.
  • 3 minutes, 30 seconds a day via devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops (or just over 3 half-hour TV shows a month). This is mostly on-demand but some live streams (source: figures supplied by UK broadcasters to Thinkbox).

Since July 2013, BARB has been measuring TV viewing on a TV set that takes place between 8-28 days after broadcast. If this viewing is included in the total it adds an extra 2 minutes per person per day, taking total daily viewing to 3 hours, 57 minutes.

In total, viewing on non-TV set devices via Broadcaster VOD services – such as ITV Player, Sky Go, 4OD and BBC iPlayer, and DaveOD – accounted for 1.5% of overall TV viewing during 2013. This is a slight increase on the full year figure for 2012, when it accounted for 1.2%.

TV sets remain at the heart of viewing

The average viewer watched 3 hours, 52 minutes a day of linear TV on a TV set in 2013, compared to 4 hours, 1 minute during 2012, according to BARB.

  • 8 minutes more linear TV a day than ten years ago.
  • 88.7% of linear TV was watched live compared to 89.9% in 2012.
  • The average person watched 2 hours, 33 minutes of commercial TV a day.
  • Commercial TV accounted for 68% of linear viewing, up from 66% in 2012. 
  • Commercial TV accounted for 76% of linear viewing among the younger 16-34 audience.
  • In the last ten years, commercial TV viewing has increased by 4%.

‘Time-shifted’ TV viewing

BARB’s measurement system captures the amount of linear TV that is recorded on digital TV recorders (DTRs) – such as Sky+, Freeview+ and Virgin Media’s TiVo – and watched within seven days of the original broadcast. 

BARB also captures any on-demand TV watched on a TV set in this period, although it currently only publishes the data for Sky households, in which on-demand via the TV set accounts for 1% of total TV set viewing. BARB is due to begin publishing figures for all TV watched in the home later in 2014.

  • In the estimated 59% of UK households that own DTRs, 83.6 % of linear TV was watched live compared to 84.4% in 2012. 
  • 81% of all timeshifted viewing is watched within two days of recording
  • 47% of timeshifted viewing is seen within 24 hours of it being recorded

BARB’s figures suggest that the growth in the amount of TV that is recorded and played back is slowing down. Ofcom also stated this in its recent Communications Market Report 2013.

Once all households have the ability to digitally record TV programmes, Thinkbox expects the average level of recorded and playback TV viewing to settle at around 15-20% of total linear viewing, as it has in those households that do currently own DTRs.  However on-demand TV will increase as a proportion of the time-shifted total.

Additional, non-TV set viewing

BARB’s figures do not yet include TV viewed on devices other than TV sets, however figures supplied by the UK TV broadcaster show that this viewing accounted for an average of 3 minutes, 30 seconds of viewing a day per viewer.

With the spread of internet-connected TV sets, Thinkbox expects that some on-demand viewing, which currently takes place off the TV set, will move to the TV set, as that is the screen people prefer to watch TV on. The growth in viewing on non-TV set devices could be limited by the increasing availability of on-demand services to TV sets.

Commercial TV impacts

Commercial impacts (the number of TV ads watched at normal speed) during 2013 were up 1.6% on 2012, and have grown by 10.4% over the last five years.

The average viewer watched 47 ads a day – this is four ads more a day than five years ago. Collectively the UK watched an average of 2.8 billion ads a day in the first half of the year.

Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox’s Chief Executive: “New screens are making TV even more convenient for viewers and creating new opportunities for advertisers. But, the more we learn, the clearer it becomes that the TV set will remain our favourite way to watch TV – especially as on-demand services become more available on the best screen.”


Press contact:

  • Simon Tunstill | Head of Communications, Thinkbox | [email protected] | 020 7630 2326

Broadcast TV viewing via the TV set is measured by BARB’s live viewing panel representing the in-home viewing behaviour of the 26 million TV households within the UK, whether live or time-shifted within 7 days of broadcast.

Non-TV set viewing was calculated based on stream data for 2013 provided by the UK broadcasters. It includes all catch-up and live streaming TV (including programmes watched after 7 days of the original broadcast).

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