Almost half of UK homes have a TV streaming subscription

The Bodyguard: report says traditional TV needs more popular shows (credit: BBC)
The Bodyguard: report says traditional TV needs more popular shows (credit: BBC)

Young people also surpassed one hour's viewing of YouTube a day for the first time.

Almost half of households in the UK have signed up to one of the popular TV streaming platforms, data from Ofcom’s Media Nations report has revealed.

Subscriptions for platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and Disney Life have risen 19% year on year from 11.2 million (39% of UK homes) in 2018 to 13.3 million.

However, many homes are signed up to more than one service, which means that the total number of subscriptions in the UK increased 25% in 2018 from 15.6 million to 19.1 million.

The report added that traditional TV viewing is falling at a "slightly accelerating rate" by nine minutes in 2017 and 11 minutes in 2018. Ofcom said that viewers watch 50 minutes less traditional TV a day than in 2010.

"The shift is most pronounced among younger people (16-24s), whose viewing of traditional TV has halved in that time," the report said.

YouTube viewing rises

Average daily viewing of streaming platforms increased by seven minutes to 26 minutes in 2018. YouTube viewing was up six minutes to 34 minutes per day. This has pushed viewing to over an hour (64 minutes, up from 59 minutes) among young people.

Thirty-eight per cent of UK adults that have a streaming subscription said that they could see themselves not watching broadcast TV at all in five years’ time.

The BBC and ITV are due to launch a joint streaming service later this year called Britbox that will feature the classic shows the broadcasters have produced as well as new commissions.

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.

"But 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."

A spokesman for Thinkbox added that the study does not show how much time is spent seeing ads. He explained: "Ofcom’s report shows that TV remains incredibly popular and that UK broadcasters – rapidly growing streaming services themselves – account for the vast majority of video viewing, despite the huge amount of choice we now have.

"This is in part due to the brilliant British content they make that US services don’t provide. What isn’t in Ofcom’s report is the time people spend seeing video advertising. Here broadcasters are even more important, accounting for 95%. TV viewing is changing as it redistributes across live and on demand; but what isn’t changing is how critical TV remains for getting ads seen."

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