10 things about TV you need to know from Ofcom’s report

Back from my summer hols (lovely thanks for asking) and into silly season at its height. But what is this I see? Something very far from silly from those clever people at Ofcom.

The beauty of Ofcom is that it is media-neutral.   Yes, we pride ourselves on our commitment to truthfulness about facts, but as everyone knows, we have a TV axe to grind the size of Pluto so when we say positive things about telly, no matter how factually accurate they are, we sometimes receive a cynical dose of ‘you would say that, wouldn’t you?’.  Not so Ofcom. Ofcom is Ofcom.

And Ofcom does proper research. It doesn’t ask its staff’s kids what they’re doing; it doesn’t guess what might be happening based on internet reports; it doesn’t rely on the opinions of people who live or work in Shoreditch.  No, Ofcom, to every corner of medialand’s benefit, does rigorous, robust research you can trust and it does it every year so, crucially, you can also track. No research is flawless of course, but Ofcom comes as close as you can and the scope of their Communications Market Report 2013 is simply breathtaking.

What you should really do is read the report and make sure everyone in your team(s) reads it too. But here are some of the main themes for TV to save you time:

The TV set in the living room is becoming even more popular
* The proportion of UK adults watching TV on the main TV set in the living room has increased from 88% in 2002 to 91% in 2012 (BARB data tells us that commercial linear TV reaches 98% of the UK a month).
* Viewers are enjoying bigger screens in the living room. ‘Jumbo’ TV sets (43”+) accounted for 15.8% of sales in the first quarter 2013, a 4.3 percentage point increase on 2012.

Smart TVs are bought to watch TV
* 7% of TV households had a Smart TV at the end of the Q1 2013, a two percentage point increase on the previous year.
* The majority bought a smart TV because “they needed a new TV and decided to buy one with the latest technology” (51%). Other reasons were “liking the design of the set” (33%) and “wanting the best screen” (29%).

Live TV rules
* Live TV accounted for 90% of all viewing in 2012, with the average viewer watching just over four hours of TV a day – 15 minutes more than in 2008
* There is no significant variation in the frequency of viewing live television between smart TV owners and traditional TV owners, with 88% of all owners using them daily for such content.

VOD is mainly used to catch up
* Many people are using VOD services, but the majority are viewing less often and for shorter periods than watching linear TV. This is supported by BBC statistics, which show that BBC iPlayer accounts for about 2% of total BBC programming consumed in the UK
* The main reason for using VOD services is to catch up on missed programmes or films. The next most important reason given for using TV VOD was “when there is nothing to watch on scheduled TV” (54%) and “want to watch a programme or film at a time that suits me” (46%).

New TV screens are proliferating
* Over half of adults (51%) now own a smartphone, almost double the proportion two years ago (27%); tablet ownership has more than doubled in the past year, rising from 11% of homes to 24%.
* Tablets are also supporting the continued popularity of watching TV live, with more than half (57%) of tablet audiovisual content viewers watching live TV at least weekly via this device.

Time-shifted TV growth is slowing
* The total proportion of time-shifted viewing remains low, increasing from 2% in 2007 to 10% in 2012, with year-on-year signs that the growth rate is slowing.

Multi-screening / ‘media meshing’ is popular
* A quarter of the UK (25%) is regularly ‘media meshing’ – Ofcom’s phrase for doing something else related to what they’re watching on TV (44% for younger people)
* 11% use social networks while watching TV; 3% use apps to interact directly with TV programmes
* Each week, 16% of people do some online shopping while watching TV

60% of Twitter users tweet regularly about TV
* Only 9% of the UK uses Twitter, but 60% of them tweet about TV, according to Twitter/Second Sync data

Online TV revenue growing
* Online TV revenue in the UK increased 12-fold in the last five years, from £21m in 2007 to £258m in 2012. Year on year, the total market grew by 40%.

UK broadcasters invested more in 2012
* Spend on content by all UK TV channels in 2012 stood at £5.6bn, up by 2% year on year in nominal terms.