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Viewing up as commercial TV drives growth

Viewing up as commercial TV drives growth

The public's love of established broadcast TV remains strong with viewing reaching a record high last year according to new figures from Thinkbox.

The report comes as the government contemplates the future of media with the imminent publication of its ‘Digital Britain’ report.

Full year figures for TV viewing in 2008 from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) reveal that the average person in the UK watched 26 hours, 18 minutes of broadcast TV a week, up 48 minutes on 2007. This matches the previous highest broadcast viewing figure on record, reached in 2003.

The growth – seen across all age groups – was driven by commercial TV channels, which now account for 63% of all broadcast TV viewing. The average person watched 16 hours, 24 minutes of commercial TV a week in 2008, 36 minutes more than in 2007. In the last ten years, commercial TV viewing alone has increased by one hour, 20 minutes a week.

Commercial TV’s growth means commercial impacts – the number of TV ads watched at normal speed – also increased in 2008 to reach a new all time high. Total impacts are up 6.3% on 2007, with 2.4 billion ads watched a day, an average of 42 ads seen per person every day

TV remains by far people’s favourite medium, representing 54% of our daily media consumption (source: IPA Touchpoints2). The growth in broadcast TV viewing is all the more significant given the fact that 2008 was a watershed year for on-demand TV viewing (not currently measured by BARB) with an explosion in viewing via web services, such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD, Demand Five and Sky Player, and IPTV platforms, such as Virgin Media and BT Vision.

That broadcast TV viewing is growing simultaneously with online TV demonstrates that viewers are watching them for different reasons. Thinkbox research has shown that 78% of online TV viewing is to catch-up with broadcast TV and that online TV increases viewer loyalty to channels and programmes.

Reasons behind the growth of linear broadcast TV in 2008 include:

·         Digital broadcast TV: rapid take-up of digital TV services (now at 88.2%) is creating new audiences for more channels and increasing commercial TV’s share of TV viewing

·         Digital Television Recorders: people watch 17% more TV after they get a DTR like Sky+ or Freeview+ (source: Sky View). DTRs are now in 22% of UK homes.

·         Online TV: on-demand online TV is keeping people in the broadcast schedules. 78% of online TV viewing is to catch- or keep-up with missed broadcast TV (source: Work Research/Thinkbox).

·         Compelling programming: big entertainment shows like X Factor are getting bigger and bringing people together in the living room.

·         Bad weather: a very wet summer and a cold spring encouraged people to stay indoors.

·         Economic downturn: people are staying in more and taking advantage of the free entertainment.

Tess Alps, chief executive of Thinkbox, said, “TV remains people’s favourite form of entertainment, whatever technology delivers it. These figures show that people rely on channels and schedules to help them find the TV they want to watch. At a time when we are lucky to have more excellent TV to choose from than ever, trusted channels remain crucial to guide people through the choice.  Watching live is driven by human need not by technological limitation.

“The figures are also great news for advertisers. TV is proven to be the most effective ad medium and advertisers have a growing audience to engage with – as well as new audiences on other TV platforms like the web. The broadcast audience may not always be watching the same programme at the same time as it did when there were a handful of channels, because TV now offers them more choice and control.  But viewers haven’t gone anywhere. Advertisers can reach more people overnight via broadcast TV than ever.”

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