Total video time in UK is 5 hours a day…unless you know different

I’m breaking my own rule: normally I only blog about one chart a year and this year’s chart was this bobby-dazzler. But sometimes a chart gives me such a pleading, data-driven look that I can’t resist its charms.

Plus it took me bloody ages to do it.

This chart shows total time spent watching video in all its different forms in UK, based on the best full year figures available for 2013:


The chart draws on the figures from BARB, ComScore, Route, IMDB, Rentrak, FAME, DCM, and TV Broadcaster data. It also includes some estimates for out of home video screens (pubs, underground stations, dentists…). The 5 hours a day is the average across the whole UK adult population including non-users of these different forms of video. We wanted to get an idea of the average person’s video consumption.

You’ll notice some interesting things in the figures. Linear TV is three quarters of the total video time (all TV is video but not all video is TV). ‘Adult’ video (i.e. porn) is a staggering half of all non-TV online video time, according to Comscore figures.

I’ve created this chart in response to the questions we always get asked when we publish the TV viewing figures. People want to know where TV sits in the video universe, as video of all sorts of flavours – and, let’s be honest, quality – proliferates.

But I also created it to start the ball rolling. I had a go because the calculation had not been done before as far as I am aware. I would like to stress that I am in no way saying this is the definitive answer. I’ve tried to be as exhaustive as possible and cover as many different types of video as I could think of.

Here’s what’s in there, if anything is missing please let me know…

The first and biggest bit (75.3%) is easy: 3 hours 52 minutes a day of rigorously BARB-measured linear TV. Timeshift and on demand watched within 7 days are in this number as well as live.

Then there is extra TV content watched on the TV set (5.5%) – things like 8-28 day timeshifting, any subscription VOD like Netflix and Lovefilm, and a bunch of what BARB calls ‘unmatched viewing’ which is simply stuff they haven’t got a reference for so it isn’t recognised and attributed to a channel. BARB measures all of this and we have been able to look at an overall figure for this viewing. But this viewing isn’t in the gold standard TV viewing numbers we report or part of the currency that the market trades on.

Then we have TV watched on other devices (1.1%). We know from broadcaster data that there is an average of three and half minutes a day of broadcast content watched on mobiles, laptops, PCs and tablets from things like ITV Player, BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, and 4OD.

Next, and still on the TV set, there is another chunk of activity that is measured by BARB but not reported in its total TV figure. This includes things like games console usage, plugging your PC into your TV, EPG activity that isn’t recognised as a channel, radio consumption through the TV screen and apps usage. This accounts for 3.4% of total video viewing. I know what you’re thinking; radio definitely isn’t ‘video’ – but I can’t isolate the audio only part of that number so I’m afraid it has to stay in there.

Then we leave the TV set and TV viewing and look at other screens. First is the biggest of them all: the cinema screen. This works out as 0.4% of the total.

Then we have online video (not including TV content), which splits into two roughly equal halves. ‘Adult’ video content adds up to 31 minutes per day on average, some 6.7% of the total. The rest of non-TV online video content – so everything from web/mobile  SVOD like Netflix and Blinkbox (i.e. proper TV and film) to videos on YouTube, Facebook and those embedded in publisher websites etc. – adds up to 33 minutes a day on average, 6.9% of the total.

Finally we move to less certain ground where I had to make educated estimates: out of home screens. I managed to get an indication about some of the actual video activity measured on outdoor from Route and some pub viewing stats from Sky, but I couldn’t get it all, obviously, so have estimated that the average person watches a video on those screens in total for about 2 minutes a day. I think, based on the figures I have seen, that that may be generous. But I’m just a generous kind of guy. Given this is mostly just video, not audio-video, you might also argue that this shouldn’t be part of the total because it’s more a moving poster than a TV-like medium.  But again, generosity rules.

So there you go: 5 hours of video a day – unless you know better, in which case let’s work together to find a more accurate number.


  • Rob

    Interesting stats Neil – so if “TV watched on other devices” (ITV Player/ 4OD etc) only accounts for a small percentage of commercial broadcaster viewing (say 1.3% based on your figures – 3.5 mins divided by 3h 52m?), do you think agencies are over-estimating the percentage of AV spend that should be invested into VOD activity?

  • Neil Mortensen

    Hello Rob, I don’t think that.
    Advertising decisions should not be made solely on the basis of how much time
    is spent with something. If they were then linear TV advertising would receive
    far more investment than it currently does and search would receive much less.
    Of course I would advocate more investment into all forms of TV advertising
    including linear TV but that advice would be based on a lots of information, from
    audience insights, case studies and effectiveness data

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