Although viewing on TV sets declined in 2014, they continue to be the UK’s screen of choice by some distance.
According to stats based on the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board’s (BARB) standard measurement for TV set viewing, and figures supplied by the UK broadcasters to Thinkbox, total average daily TV viewing in the UK during 2014 was 3 hours, 44 minutes, 30 seconds a day per person, meaning there was an overall decline in total TV viewing of 10 minutes, 30 seconds a day compared to 2013 (4.5%).
This was entirely down to a drop in TV set viewing, which decreased by 4.7%. Viewing on other screens, such as tablets and laptops, grew year on year by 17%.
In 2014, 98.4% of all TV was watched on a TV set. 86% of TV set viewing was on a TV set in the living room, according to BARB. Taking the long-term perspective, TV set viewing was only 0.4% less in 2014 than it was 10 years ago.
Analysis of BARB’s data indicates that 95% of the dip in TV set viewing is accounted for by the heaviest TV viewers (those who were watching over an average of 4 hours a day) watching less. This analysis shows that the number of viewers who watched over 4 hours a day in 2014 fell by 7.2% compared with 2013.
The drop in the number of heavy viewers explains why TV’s UK population reach has stayed virtually the same (94.6% a week in 2013 vs. 94.2% in 2014). It isn’t that people have stopped watching linear TV; it is that those who were watching the most watched a bit less.
BARB’s standard industry measurement – on which TV advertising is traded – only includes in-home viewing on a TV set, live or playback, within 7 days of broadcast. However, an increasing amount of TV viewing is happening outside these 7 days and out of the home.
In 2014, 88% of all TV set viewing was watched live compared to 89% in 2013 (there is no data yet to show what proportion of TV watched on other screens is live-streamed).
Specifically in the 58% of households that own a digital television recorder, 83% of TV on a TV set in 2014 was watched live compared to 84% in 2013. So the level of non-live viewing (i.e. playback and VOD within 7 days on a TV set) seems to be settling around the 15-20% mark.
48% of all recorded viewing was watched within 24 hours of recording and 81% watched within two days, demonstrating viewers’ desire to stay close to the live schedules.