TBI Tech & Analysis: Digging into the UK’s record linear declines

The Dig

While the conversation about the future of content consumption rumbles along, TBI continues its dig into Omdia’s annual Cross-Platform Viewing Time Report to cut through the noise and uncover exactly what viewer habits around the world are telling us right now.

Last week, we delved into the US market, but now turn our eye across the Atlantic to the UK as we explore the findings from Omdia, the research arm of TBI owner Informa, detailed in its newly released report – and what it tells us about the country’s linear decline and online growth.

Linear TV viewing was the prime driver of this decline with viewing down by 16 minutes, the largest fall in live TV for the UK on record. As in previous years, this decline was driven by a growing number of consumers preferring to stream or download content over live content. When combined with PVR however, linear continues to remain, for now, the most popular way to watch TV in the UK.

Sports programming unsurprisingly came out on top for the most watched program in 2021, with both the UEFA Euro 2020 semi-final (England vs. Denmark) and the final game (Italy vs. England) appearing in the top two, according to Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB). Programs related to the COVID-19 pandemic (Prime Ministerial Statement No.4, BBC News Special No. 7) likewise featured high in the top 10.

Online long form viewing was the only platform to grow in 2021, increasing by 7.3% to 62 minutes per person per day. The takeup of superfast and ultrafast broadband homes connecting their TV set to the internet, and the growth of new and established online players, have led to this growth in online form viewing. Original programming has also been a vital factor in driving this customer growth, with SVOD providers continuing to increase their content spend and boost the volume of originals and exclusives available on their services.

Local original programming has played a key role in drawing strong audience figures on both SVOD and linear platforms as well, with many of Netflix’s UKproduced content, including Bridgerton, The Dig and Behind Her Eyes, appearing in its mostwatched programs list of the year. SVOD services, led by Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, powered much of this growth in viewing time, with uptake growing even further than 2020 due to the continual expansion of SVOD market.

PayTV VOD saw the fastest decline in growth in 2021, with a 15.4% decline to 15.6 minutes. This fall in viewing time consumption was largely driven by Sky, which saw a 12.2% drop in ondemand views, having grown by 49% the previous year. Free VOD content, which holds 83% of total views, saw the largest fall in consumption, with both its movie and TV content falling by 14%.

The extract above is from Cross-Platform Television Viewing Time Report – 2022, written by Omdia analysts Rob Moyser, Ajay Paul and Adam Thomas. To find out more, click here.

Tags: Netflix, OMDIA

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