Linear TV Viewing Remains Above Four Hours a Day

New figures show that TV viewing in the UK is continuing to expand as people watch additional TV on-demand via TV sets, tablets, smartphones and laptops. In total, the average UK viewer watched 4 hours, 4 minutes of TV a day in 2012 – the year when TV in the UK became 100% digital following analogue switch-off.

Full year viewing figures for 2012 from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) reveal that viewers in the UK watched an average of 4 hours, 1 minute a day of linear TV on a TV set, a minute below the record level set in 2011. This is the third consecutive year that linear TV viewing on a TV set has remained above an average of four hours a day.

In addition to this, according to figures supplied by UK broadcasters to Thinkbox, in 2012 viewers in the UK also watched an average of 3 minutes a day of  TV, mostly on-demand but some live streams,  on non-TV set devices via established services such as ITV Player, Sky Go, 4OD and BBC iPlayer, and new services like Dave On-demand. This is the first time the average amount of TV watched via devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops has been quantified. It amounts to an average of three 30-minute TV episodes a month per viewer (90 minutes).

However, balancing this growth is the increasing availability of on-demand services to TV sets, which could limit viewing on other devices

Linear TV viewing 

  • Linear TV viewing is stabilising at the 4 hours a day mark. The average viewer watched 4 hours, 1 minute of linear TV a day in 2012, compared to 4 hours, 2 minutes in 2011, according to BARB

  • Viewers are watching 27 minutes more linear TV a day than ten years ago.

  • 89.9% of linear TV in 2012 was watched live, as it was broadcast, compared to 90.3% in 2011.

  • BARB’s figures suggest that the Olympics coverage broadcast on the BBC did not adversely affect commercial TV viewing overall in 2012.

  • The average person watched 2 hours, 35 minutes of commercial TV a day in 2012, a minute less than in 2011.

  • Commercial TV accounted for 66% of linear viewing, at a similar level to 2011.

  • Commercial TV accounted for 74% of linear viewing among the younger 16-34 audience.

  • In the last ten years, commercial TV viewing has increased by 23%.


For the full press release, visit the Thinkbox website.
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