Thinkbox Shows Growth in U.K. Viewing on TVs and Mobile Devices

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TV viewing continues to expand, according to new figures released today by Thinkbox, the U.K.'s marketing body for commercial broadcasters. Thinkbox claims to have quantified TV viewing on mobile devices for the first time.

Thinkbox has collated figures from BARB (Broadcasters' Audience Research Board) and from U.K. broadcasters. Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations, and U.K.TV are all Thinkbox shareholders.

Full-year viewing figures for 2012 reveal that viewers watched an average of 4 hours, 1 minute a day of linear TV on a television set, one minute below the record level set in 2011.

In addition, according to figures supplied by U.K. broadcasters, Thinkbox reports that in 2012 U.K. viewers also watched an average of 3 minutes a day of TV, mostly on-demand but some live streams, on non-TV set devices via services such as ITV Player, Sky Go, 4OD, and BBC iPlayer.

Thinkbox says this is the first time the average amount of TV watched via devices such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops has been measured. BARB does not yet capture this data. It amounts to an average of three 30-minute television episodes a month per viewer (90 minutes).

While this is a small amount of viewing it is certain to increase as on-demand TV services become more widely available via pay and free set-top boxes, complementing linear TV viewing.

Some additional statistics:

Viewers watch 27 minutes more linear TV a day than ten years ago.

Live video is still the leader: 89.9 percent of linear TV in 2012 was watched live, as it was broadcast, compared to 90.3 percent in 2011.

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

Commercial (i.e. non-BBC) TV accounted for 66 percent of linear viewing, a similar level to 2011.

BARB's measurement system captures the amount of linear TV recorded on DVRs -- such as Sky+, Freeview+, and Virgin Media's TiVo -- and watched within seven days of the original broadcast. It also captures any on-demand TV watched on a TV set in this period. This is still a small figure and BARB does not currently publish it separately.

The 2012 viewing figures reveal that:

In the U.K., 51 percent of households now own a DVR, compared to 50 percent in 2011.

In households that own DVRs, 84.4 percent of linear TV was watched live compared to 84.7 percent in 2011.

81 percent of all timeshifted viewing is watched within seven days of recording.

Once all households have the ability to digitally record TV programmes, Thinkbox expects the average level of recorded and playback TV viewing to settle at around 15 percent of total linear viewing, as it has in those households that currently own DVRs. However, on-demand TV will increase as a proportion of the time-shifted total.

With the rise of internet-connected TV sets, Thinkbox anticipates that some on-demand viewing that currently takes place on the computer will move to the home's main television, as that is people's preferred screen for viewing.

"Linear TV's continued strength underlines viewers' preference for watching TV as it is broadcast and on a TV set," notes Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox's managing director. "Viewing via personal devices, which we have been able to estimate for the first time, is in comparison relatively small, but it is growing rapidly and helping TV as a whole to expand."

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