Editor | 09-08-2013
The 2013 version of the Public Service Broadcasting Annual Report by UK TV regulator Ofcom has found that the combined viewing shares of the main PSB channels is continuing its trend of slow decline.
Looking at audience opinions, viewing figures, spend on programmes and output of the UK's PSB channels – BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as the BBC digital channels and S4C – Ofcom found that fundamentally viewers continue to watch the PSB channels in large numbers. The five main PSB channels and their portfolio of channels accounted for 73% of all television viewing in 2012, a decrease from 74% in 2011.
The proportion of people who watched BBC One and Channel 5 in an average week has remained broadly stable over the last five years (BBC One's weekly reach was 78% in 2007 and in 2012; Channel 5's reach was 40% in 2007 and 39% in 2012).
Yet stripping out the 800lb gorilla that is BBC One, the weekly reach of BBC Two, ITV and Channel 4 has declined over the past five years. BBC Two's has decreased from 58% in 2007 to 52% in 2012; ITV from 70% in 2007 to 64% in 2012; and Channel 4 from 59% in 2007 to 51% in 2012.
Overall, the combined viewing share of the five main PSB channels was 52% in 2012, down from 64% in 2007. Each PSB channel has seen its viewing share fall over a five-year period, though BBC One has shown a slight increase year-on-year, up by 0.6% to 21.3% in 2012. Ofcom noted though that the decline was offset by an increase in viewing of the channels' digital portfolio channels, with combined viewing almost doubling from 12% in 2007 to 21% in 2012.
This trend was also to be found when it came to network spending. Total spending on national, or 'network', programming across the five main PSB channels and the BBC digital channels decreased by 2% in real terms compared to last year to £2.9 billion in 2012. However, spending on new commissioned programmes – that is those first shown that year on the five main PSB channels and the BBC digital channels – increased marginally, by 0.3% year-on-year to £2.5 billion. Spend on new commissioned sports programmes increased by 14% year-on-year to £563 million, largely due to the London Olympics and Paralympics.
Yet the survey also showed that audiences continue to value PSB programmes. More than three-quarters (76%) of viewers of PSB channels are satisfied with them, the same as a year ago. Ofcom's survey also showed an increase in the proportion of viewers who think it important to show well-made, high quality programmes, up from 78% last year to 82% in 2012.