Live linear TV remains dominant in UK in 2011

Joseph O'Halloran ©RapidTVNews | 24-01-2012

Data released by Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, has found that despite even more alternatives launched thoughout the year, 2011 saw linear TV viewing match the record 4 hours a day average set in 2010.

Thinkbox’s main conclusion was that the data underlines viewers’ preference for watching TV as it is broadcast and on a TV set whenever possible. And even better for the company whose shareholders are Channel 4, GMTV, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations and UKTV, Thinkbox added that not only was 90.6% of all linear TV watched live but more commercial TV than ever was being watched.
Commercial impacts, the number of ads watched at normal speed during 2011 was up 2.6% on 2010, and have grown by 19.6% over the last five years to a new record high. The average viewer watched 47 ads a day during 2011. Only 9.4% of viewing was from ad-skipping time-shifted TV, up from 7.6% in 2010 due to more households now owning a digital television recorder (DTR).
The research was carried out by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) and confirmed that the average UK viewer watched 4 hours, 2 minutes of linear TV a day in 2011 (28 hours, 14 minutes a week).
According to the data among the key drivers were technology innovations—such as digital TV recorders, HD and 3D— that enhance the TV experience; greater choice of TV from almost universal digital penetration; on-demand TV services which send people back to the broadcast schedules, indeed Thinkbox says that 89% of people watch on-demand TV mainly to catch-up or keep-up with missed broadcast TV; and better measurement of TV viewing Yet in addition to the choice and range of programmes and services, the TV industry was receiving a benefit from the inclement economic times that were actually encouraging people to stay in more and watch TV.
Commercial TV channels were seen as the engine for maintaining the record viewing level, accounting for 64% of all linear TV viewing, up 1.3% points on the data for 2010. Interestingly, certainly from a marketing perspective, for the younger 16-34 audience this rises to 72%. The average person in the UK watched 18 hours, 11 minutes of commercial TV a week (2 hours, 36 minutes a day) in 2011, an increase of 22 minutes a week on 2010. In the last ten years, commercial TV viewing has increased by over 3 hours, 30 minutes a week (31 minutes a day).
Even though 2011 witnessed an explosion in the ways in which to watch TV—notably on laptops, tablets and smartphones—such activity was not recorded in BARB’s figures and are thus not impacting on linear viewing, to date anyway.
That said, the BARB data suggested an additional 1.2% of TV viewing via other devices, 2.9% for 16-34 year olds.
Extrapolating forward, Thinkbox predicts that total linear TV viewing levels will now stabilise after a sustained period of record growth.
Commented Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox’s Managing Director: “These figures explain why so many tech companies want to join the TV industry. Many companies are flocking to launch new TV services or social media services that feed off people’s love affair with TV.
“It is obvious that people want to watch TV programmes on the best screen in the home if they can and 2012 will bring more opportunities to do that with the sale of connected TVs and more catch-up TV services to the TV set. And alongside that there is now a wide variety of personal screens to watch TV on which make TV even more convenient; tablets are really delivering an excellent mobile TV experience. TV continues to be the most effective form of advertising there is and the instant responses that 2nd screens enable is making it even more so.”