A public display of strength: TV and the UK population

Net TV advertising revenue topped the £4 billion mark for the second year running in 2016, with on-demand and streaming platforms such as iPlayer and Netflix chiefly a supplement to Pay-TV subscriptions, according to the latest Communications Market Report from Ofcom.

Though binge viewing in the UK continues to rise, 90% of people surveyed claim to watch live TV every week, with shared viewing still regarded as a key part of family life. Of those who do regularly use an on-demand or streaming service, 74% also subscribe to a Pay-TV service such as Sky or Virgin Media.

The great divide

The report also highlights a clear divide in terms of age and viewing habits: unsurprisingly, younger viewers are far more likely to engage with the likes of All4, ITV Hub, Netflix and Amazon Prime, whilst older viewers remain mostly faithful to the live TV schedule. 76% of young people aged 16-24 use a subscription streaming service, compared to just 19% people aged 65-plus.

This crystallises the view that, to effectively reach and engage the 16-24 demographic, a strategy that combines linear TV with complementary online video activity should be on the agenda of brands targeting this audience group.

The proclivity amongst older age groups for consuming more television content also explains why Freeview-only households watch 15-minutes more TV than those with satellite TV, and 25-minutes more than those with cable TV. Indeed, younger viewers are much more likely to own a Pay-TV subscription, as are people within the ABC1 socio-economic demographic.

Commercial TV does it again

Ofcom also found that the five main Public Service Broadcasters (PSB) spent more money on original UK programming in 2016 than in any other year since 2012, with 78% of viewers either very or quite satisfied with the quality of content aired by PSB broadcasters.

In total, 51% of all TV programming viewed in 2016 was broadcast by BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5, with 49% emanating from smaller multichannel TV stations, including PSB portfolios. Indeed, commercial TV revenues broke through the £4 billion barrier for the second year running in 2016, with the medium’s mass reach capabilities, robust brand safety offerings and standardized measurement models driving its enduring appeal.

Small businesses slower in joining the party

One of the most interesting stats to emerge from the report is that approximately 70% of all online advertising revenues (including search) came from small and local businesses, suggesting that the TV advertising market still has work to do in educating businesses owners on the cost-effective options available to television advertisers.

With a wider channel choice, audience fragmentation and campaign optimisation tools making it easier for TV advertisers to target specific demographics than ever before, agencies and broadcasters must shout louder about the medium’s suitability for growing businesses with smaller budgets.