7 in 10 adults will be using free catch-up services to watch Christmas TV on-demand this year. If that doesn’t sound like a surprising statistic from Ofcom’s latest report, that’s because we already think of it as the norm: according to the regulator, the UK is leading the world when it comes to high-tech TV viewing.
TV viewers in the UK “appear to be the most technologically-advanced” of European nations, says Ofcom, with more than half (54 per cent) of UK adults now owning a tablet, and two-thirds (67 per cent) owning a smartphone. Online Brits are now the most likely to watch catch-up TV on a tablet (16 per cent) and use an online service to watch TV or films (81 per cent).
That puts us ahead of all other major European countries (not to mention the USA, Japan and Australia) – and also means UK viewers won’t be fighting over the remote control this Christmas.
Overall, people in the UK are watching 3 hours 40 minutes of TV per day, just below the average among sampled countries of 3 hours 43 minutes. Americans watch the most TV overall (4 hours 42 minutes), while the Swedish watch the least (2 hours 33 minutes).
But the UK saw the greatest decline in traditional live TV viewing among the countries studied by Ofcom, decreasing by 4.9 per cent from 2013 to 2014. The UK is also a leader for viewing on connected TVs, with 42 per cent of homes owning a TV connected to the internet – second only to Spain.
While 7 in 10 of the UK’s connected TV owners are watching content on catch-up services, such as All 4 or Sky On Demand, more than half (54 per cent) are watching content via a subscription service, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
What do you buy your loved ones who like TV and film? Maybe not a DVD anymore, suggests Ofcom, with 32 per cent of people saying they watch discs less this year compared to last year.
The VOD sector is rapidly building its revenue as a result, with £908 million spent on online video services last year, up 44 per cent from 2013. It pales in comparison to the £14 billion from the traditional TV industry – of which a whopping 45 per cent was generated by pay-TV subscriptions, Yes, around 6 in 10 UK households were locked into a pay-TV contract at the end of 2014, despite more than half (51 per cent) of viewing still involving the five main public service channels.
But streaming is becoming as much a part of the holiday routine as stockings.
“UK viewers won’t be tied to the TV schedule this Christmas,” says James Thickett, Ofcom Director of Research. “More than anywhere else, we’re watching TV and films at a time that suits us, on a range of devices, in and out of the home. So this year, more people can fit their festive TV viewing around opening presents and carving the turkey.”
Live TV still remains the overall popular way to tune in, though, notes Ofcom – something that’s especially apparent during one key Christmas occasion: New Year’s Eve, when more than 9 in 10 viewers (11.4 million people) watched live at midnight.