Traditional TV holds its own despite streaming surge in the UK | Media Analysis | Business
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Even though streaming subscriptions have leapt significantly in the country with around half of homes now taking such a service, traditional broadcasters still hold sway in the UK, forming almost 70% of TV time says research from broadcast regulator Ofcom.
Ofcom svod psb 7Aug2019
The Media Nations report, a study of major trends in UK television, radio and audio, found that the number of UK households signed up to the most popular streaming platforms – such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NOW TV and Disney Life – increased from 11.2 million (39%) in 2018 to 13.3 million (47%) in 2019. In addition with many homes using more than one service, the total number of UK streaming subscriptions rose by a quarter in 2018 – from 15.6 million to 19.1 million.

Yet while the survey showed that traditional TV viewing continued to decline in 2018, falling at a slightly accelerating rate, driven by the changing habits and preferences of UK viewers, it also revealed that the UK’s public service broadcasters – BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C – showed more than 100 times more original, homegrown shows than the overseas streaming platforms. Traditional TV viewing accounted for most TV time (69%), in all 3 hours 12 minutes, on average, per day. This was nine minutes down on 2017, 11 minutes less compared with 2018 and 50 minutes less each day than that in 2010. The shift is most pronounced among younger people (16-24s), whose viewing of traditional TV has halved since 2010.

In contrast, average daily viewing to streaming services was found to have risen by seven minutes in 2018, to 26 minutes, with viewing to YouTube rising by six minutes, to 34 minutes. For the first time, young people spent more than an hour on YouTube every day; 64 minutes, up from 59 minutes.

Two-fifths of UK adults — compared with 37% in 2018 — now consider online video services to be their main way of watching TV and film. Such is the attraction to online viewing, 38% of people who use subscription streaming services (could envisage not watching traditional broadcast television at all in five years’ time. That said, despite the overall decline in traditional broadcast TV viewing, the five main public service broadcasters’ (PSB) channels held their share of viewing – at 52% in 2018 compared to 51% in 2017. And three-quarters of viewers to the PSBs’ main and portfolio channels claim to be either very or fairly satisfied.

Furthermore, PSBs delivered more than 32,000 hours of original, homegrown productions across their channels in 2018, around 125 times more than was shown on paid streaming services (221 hours). The vast majority of programmes available on streaming platforms in the UK are US-made productions, created to play out in multiple countries. While PSBs’ spending on first-run, UK made programmes was 5% lower in 2018 than in 2016, Ofcom noted that they have found new ways of financing content which has offset this decrease. It found that third-party funding for programmes, including co-productions, has more than doubled over 10 years to £455m in 2018.

“The way we watch TV is changing faster than ever before. In the space of seven years, streaming services have grown from nothing to reach nearly half of British homes,” said Yih-Choung Teh, strategy and research group director at Ofcom commenting upon the Media Nations report. “But traditional broadcasters still have a vital role to play, producing the kind of brilliant UK programmes that overseas tech giants struggle to match. We want to sustain that content for future generations, so we’re leading a nationwide debate on the future of public service broadcasting.”