TV Viewing 2017

2016 TV Viewing: the facts

Take a look below to find out all the key viewing figures and trends from 2016.

Standard TV viewing is stable

The Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board’s (BARB) standard measurement of TV represents viewing of broadcaster programming that occurs on a TV set within 7 days of the original broadcast. We’ll explain below how that is not the whole story for TV viewing, as there is an increasing amount that falls outside standard measurement. Nonetheless, this standard viewing accounted for 3 hours, 32 minutes a day of the average viewer’s TV consumption in 2016 – just 4 minutes a day less than 10 years ago, a story of remarkable stability.

Commercial TV viewing dominates

66.9% of standard TV set viewing in 2016 was to commercial TV channels, meaning that the average person watched 2 hours, 22 minutes of commercial TV a day, just one minute less than 2015.

We watch 45 TV ads a day

Commercial impacts have grown by 21.9% in the last decade. The average viewer watched 45 TV ads a day at normal speed (anything else is free to advertisers). This is 6 ads more a day than 10 years ago and adds up to an average of 2.64 billion TV ads a day in 2016.

Younger people’s viewing is more varied

In 2016, 16–34s watched 2 hours, 18 minutes a day of TV on a TV set, down from 2 hours, 25 minutes in 2015; under-16s watched 1 hour, 42 minutes a day, down from 1 hour, 51 minutes. This changing consumption is explained by the fact that younger audiences are the most enthusiastic watchers of TV and other forms of video on other screens. According to our video analysis , 38% of 16-24s video viewing is on devices compared with 20% for all individuals. TV remains their favourite form of video, however, regardless of screen, accounting for 56% of 16–24s total video diet.

Commercial TV reaches 91.9% of the UK a week

This is the same as 10 years ago. For younger audiences, it is a little lower, but still very high: in 2016, standard commercial TV reached 86.9% of 16–34s a week compared with 88.4% in 2006.

86% of TV is watched live (standard TV on a TV set)

This is the average figure for all UK households, but 40% of UK households do not own a digital television recorder. In those that do, 82% of TV on a TV set in 2016 was watched live – there is no change from 2015. The live schedules are as popular as ever.

When people record TV they watch it quickly

People like to stay close to the live schedules. There’s a bit of FOMO about this driven in part by social media and the concomitant risk of spoilers.

There’s an additional 6% of TV viewing that falls outside standard measurement

Standard measurement is only the minimum amount of TV that we’re watching. By adding census level device and TV set stream data from the broadcasters together with the TV set viewing that occurs 8–28 days after broadcast (BARB reports it but doesn’t yet include in its standard measurement) we can estimate total time spent watching broadcaster TV content for the average viewer at 3 hours, 44 minutes. This means some 6% of TV viewing currently falls outside the standard BARB measurement.

Among 16–24s, as you would expect, the volume of viewing that falls outside the industry standard increases to 13%, meaning their total TV consumption is in fact 2 hours, 8 minutes.

The TV set remains the nation’s favourite way to watch

No shock here; people will always want to watch on the best screen available. In total, 98% of the TV the average viewer watched in 2016 was on a TV set. But TV sets are not only used to watch TV and TV set time is stable.

You might also like

Demand Generation: maximising media-driven returns

Join us on Thursday 21st November at Picturehouse Central where we’ll be launching our latest piece of research.


What to watch on Channel 4

Brand new drama, The Accident, starring Sarah Lancashire is here, The British Tribe Next Door sees Scarlett Moffatt and her family transplanted into the middle of a Namibian tribe. Celebrity Hunted returns for Stand Up To Cancer and Spencer, Vogue and Wedding Two starts on E4.

Coming up on UKTV

Yesterday uncovers the ravaging of our world’s lost architecture; W hosts four celebs as they battle it out as parents; Gold depicts the race through British television presented by Lenny Henry; New York’s American Civil War is back with its second season on Alibi.