New Thinkbox figures put TV viewing in perspective

  • For the first time, Thinkbox reports 2015 figures for all TV viewing in the UK on any screen
  • The average viewer in the UK watched a total of 3 hours, 51 minutes of TV a day in 2015
  • Average viewer in the UK spends 4 minutes a day watching TV on devices such as tablets and smartphones
  • 16-24s watch over twice as much TV on other devices as the average viewer
  • TV accounts for 76% of video consumption in the UK
  • YouTube now accounts for 4.4% of video viewing
  • SVOD services, including Netflix and Amazon Prime, together account for 4% of video viewing 

New figures show that the average TV viewer in the UK watched a total of 3 hours, 51 minutes of TV a day in 2015, 1% less than in 2014 but 5% more than in 2005. This figure, compiled by Thinkbox, comprises all TV viewing watched on any screen in 2015.

For the average viewer, 3 hours, 47 minutes of TV a day is watched on a TV set; 4 minutes is watched on other devices, such as tablets, smartphones and laptops. 

16-24s watched an average of 2 hours, 24 minutes a day of TV in 2015, which breaks down as 2 hours, 14 minutes a day watched on a TV set and 10 minutes watched on other devices. This is 7% less than 2014 and 8% less than 2005. However, TV remains by far the most popular form of video for this age group (see below).

Representing modern TV viewing

Previously, Thinkbox has reported only the UK industry standard measurement for TV viewing – viewing on a TV set within 7 days of the original broadcast, as measured by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) – together with streaming data from the UK Broadcasters for TV viewing on other devices. 

However, as TV viewing has developed, BARB’s figures show that an increasing amount of viewing on a TV set now falls outside standard measurement. An estimated 6.5% of all TV viewing in 2015 fell outside the industry standard. Among 16-24s this increases to 14%.

TV accounts for 76% of video time

TV – live, playback or on-demand across all screens – had a 76% share of total video viewing in 2015. This share is down from 81% in 2014, however this is set against the increase in the overall amount of video being watched. In 2015, the average person in the UK watched just 3 minutes less TV a day than in 2014.

TV dominates young people’s video world

16–24s in the UK watched an average of 3 hours, 25 minutes of video a day in 2015, with TV accounting for 57.5% of the total. They watched over twice as much Broadcaster VOD as the average (7% vs. 3%), twice as much YouTube (10.3% vs. 4.4%) and twice as much SVOD (8.7% vs. 4%).

Younger people are spending more time watching TV and other forms of video online thanks to screens like tablets and smartphones. 38% of 16-24s’ video viewing is on devices compared with 20% for all individuals. 

Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox CEO: “TV has expanded in recent years into new times and places; the way we watch TV is changing. We need to show as accurate a picture as possible of how much TV we are watching – and where TV sits in the emerging video world. With so many different forms of video out there it can be confusing so it is important to get a grip on what is really happening.

“These new figures show that TV dominates the video world for all age groups. Today’s young people watch on-demand forms of video more than the generations before that didn't grow up with them. This makes sense as they do not tend to have control of the TV set and so turn to their personal screens to watch what they want. What is remarkable is that in the last decade, when so many new technologies and services have arrived that could have disrupted TV, TV viewing has remained so dominant.” 

thinkbox chart


Recently published figures show that TV advertising revenue in the UK totalled £5.27 billion in 2015, up 7.4% on 2014. This is the sixth consecutive year that TV advertising revenue has grown in the UK. 

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