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Streaming services on the rise as traditional TV viewership continues to fall

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Ofcom figures show that around half of UK homes are now subscribed to a TV streaming service, as viewership of traditional broadcasts continues to fall.

The number of households signed up to the most popular streaming platforms – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and Disney Life – increased from 11.2m (39 per cent of households) in 2018 to 13.3m (47 per cent) in 2019.

Ofcom also said that the UK’s public service broadcasters (PSB) – BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C – showed over 100 times more original homegrown shows than the overseas streaming platforms.

While traditional viewing still accounts for most TV time (69 per cent, an average of 3 hours 12 minutes per day), this fell by nine minutes in 2017 and by 11 minutes in 2018. The average daily viewing of streaming services rose by seven minutes to 26 minutes in 2018.

For the first time, young people now spend more than an hour on YouTube each day, the Ofcom report also showed, with adults watching around half an hour of YouTube per day.

The is reflected in the fact that the biggest shift for TV consumption is among younger people (aged 16-24), whose viewing of traditional TV has halved since 2010.

Yih-Choung Teh, strategy and research group director at Ofcom, said: “The way we watch TV is changing faster than ever before. In the space of seven years, streaming services have grown from nothing to reach nearly half of British homes.

“Traditional broadcasters still have a vital role to play, producing the kind of brilliant UK programmes that overseas tech giants struggle to match. We want to sustain that content for future generations, so we’re leading a nationwide debate on the future of public service broadcasting.”

UK-made drama still resonates with audiences, with 'Bodyguard' the most-watched drama in 2018, although Ofcom concluded that “a few popular drama and entertainment programmes are not enough on their own to stem the overall decline in broadcast TV viewing”.

However, the figures don’t necessarily reflect badly on the PSBs. While the BBC has seen its live broadcast channels decline in popularity, its on-demand BBC iPlayer app has seen continual growth since its launch and shows no sign of stopping. January 2019 alone saw an 8 per cent increase in usage of the platform, compared to the previous month.

The Ofcom figures also revealed that some 38 per cent of online users can imagine not watching broadcast TV at all in five years’ time.

Ofcom said ITV is heavily reliant on its top 10 regular programmes - Coronation Street, Emmerdale, The Chase, ITV News, Tipping Point, Good Morning Britain, This Morning, I’m A Celebrity!, The Jeremy Kyle Show (now axed) and The X Factor.

In 2018, these accounted for 50 per cent of total minutes viewed on the channel, but only 8 per cent of total output.

The Ofcom report comes after the BBC and ITV announced that streaming subscription service BritBox will launch later this year, priced at £5.99 a month.

Top streaming programmes in the UK:

  1. Friends (Netflix)
  2. The Grand Tour (Amazon)
  3. You (Netflix)
  4. The Good Place (Netflix)
  5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Netflix)

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