Streaming revolution stretches TV generation gap
Younger adults now watch almost seven times less scheduled TV than those aged 65 and over, Ofcom has found, as the generation gap in media habits reaches a record high.
People aged 16-24 spend less than an hour (53 minutes) in front of broadcast TV in an average day – a fall of two-thirds in the last ten years.
In contrast, those aged 65 and over still spend around a third of their waking day enjoying broadcast TV, sitting down for almost six hours (5 hours and 50 minutes) daily. This is actually slightly higher than a decade ago.
The changes in younger adults’ habits reflect the soaring popularity of US-based, on-demand streaming services.
Three streaming giants in a fifth of homes
Around a fifth of homes (5.2 million) subscribe to all three of the most popular platforms – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ – costing around £300 per year.
Nine in ten 18-24-year-old adults bypass TV channels and head straight to streaming, on-demand and social video services when looking for something to watch, with Netflix the most common destination.
However, six in ten (59%) 55-64-year-olds and 76% of those aged 65+ still turn to TV channels first.
The streaming revolution is stretching the TV generation gap, creating a stark divide in the viewing habits of younger and older people.
Traditional broadcasters face tough competition from online streaming platforms, which they’re partly meeting through the popularity of their own on-demand player apps, while broadcast television is still the place to go for big events that bring the nation together such as the Euro final or the jubilee celebrations.
Ian Macrae, Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence
Cost of living concerns
After years of strong growth, the number of homes using streaming services began to slow in 2021, before starting to decline in spring of this year.
As the rising cost of living puts pressure on household budgets, the number subscribing to at least one streaming service fell by more than 350,000, to 19.2 million.
However, cancellations do not necessarily represent customers that have been lost for good. Ofcom’s survey of subscribers who cancelled earlier this year found that almost three quarters (73%) of customers said they thought they would resubscribe – reflecting the flexibility that allows customers to pick up and drop subscriptions depending on changes in programmes, needs or circumstances.
Challenge for public service broadcasters
Viewing figures of more than 10 million for the Women’s Euro 2022 final and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee show that broadcast television is still a popular choice for momentous national events, but public service broadcasters continue to see both audiences and levels of viewing fall.
However, there is better news for their on-demand ‘player’ apps.
Overall, 82% of people said they used a PSB on-demand service in the past six months, roughly the same proportion who said they used at least one streaming service (83%). Six in ten (59%) viewers said they used these platforms to watch channels or programmes live at the time they are broadcast.
As a result, the average time spent watching services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4 increased to 15 minutes per day, up by three minutes per person per day, bucking the trend of post-pandemic declines in viewing time.
And BBC iPlayer has a high level of satisfaction across all age groups, with over four in five (81%) of those who had used it recently saying they were satisfied with the service.
Latest News from
Pandemic no longer excuse for missing delivery targets, Ofcom warns Royal Mail02/12/2022 13:15:00
Ofcom has warned Royal Mail that it cannot continue to rely on the impact of Covid-19 as an excuse for poor delivery performance, after the company missed several regulatory targets last year due to the pandemic.
Ofcom probes transparency of telecoms price rises01/12/2022 15:15:00
Ofcom has today launched an industry-wide enforcement programme into whether in-contract price rises were set out clearly enough by phone and broadband companies before customers signed up
Gill Whitehead to lead Ofcom’s new online safety role30/11/2022 16:10:00
Gill Whitehead, a former Google executive and one of the UK’s senior leaders in data and technology, is joining Ofcom to oversee its new duties as the regulator for online safety.
Ofcom appoints new Content Board member to represent Northern Ireland23/11/2022 09:10:00
Ofcom has appointed Maria McCann to its Content Board.
‘Jules Rimet now streaming…’? How World Cup viewing habits are changing in the digital age22/11/2022 16:05:00
The FIFA Men's World Cup has officially kicked off and as the competing home nations, England and Wales, go for glory, new Ofcom research shines a light on the different ways people plan to follow the action at home.
How a social tariff saved hundreds on broadband costs21/11/2022 14:38:00
Lots of people could save money on their broadband bills by switching to a ‘social tariff’ – a lower-cost broadband package available to people who receive certain benefits.
148 stations hit the digital airwaves thanks to local radio revolution16/11/2022 16:05:00
Almost a year since the launch of the first small-scale DAB multiplex in Tynemouth and South Shields, 148 stations are now broadcasting across the UK, increasing choice for local listeners.
Who controls the news we see online?16/11/2022 15:05:00
US tech firms increasingly shape the news stories that people in the UK see and read, Ofcom has found, leading to risks around transparency and choice in news.