Ofcom has released its Media Nations report for 2023 on UK viewing and listening trends that shows a steep decline in traditional broadcast TV viewing.

The report also shows SVOD subscriptions hitting a plateau but revenues from streaming growing in the past year.

The report found that the proportion of viewers who tune in to traditional broadcast TV each week has seen the sharpest ever annual fall – from 83% in 2021 to 79% in 2022. BBC One is the only channel to reach more than half of the viewing population every week.

The average time that viewers spend watching broadcast TV each day is down from 2 hours 59 minutes in 2021, to 2 hours 38 minutes in 2022 (-12%). For the first time, there is evidence of a significant decline in average daily broadcast TV viewing among ‘core’ older audiences aged 65+), a drop of 8% year on year, and down 6% on pre-pandemic levels.

The report also shows a decline in the number of programmes attracting a mass audience. The number of programmes with more than four million TV viewers has halved over the past eight years. The report puts much of this down to fewer people watching the main early and late evening TV news bulletins, as well as a steady decline in viewing figures for the three most popular soaps: Coronation Street, EastEnders and Emmerdale.

Despite this, BBC One (20%) and ITV1 (13%) are still the top two first destinations for viewers when they turn on their TV, with Netflix coming in third (6%).

Public perception of the public service broadcast channels remains positive, with seven in ten viewers (69%) saying they were satisfied with them overall. Viewers also recognised the contribution of these channels in delivering ‘broadcast events that bring the nation together for a shared viewing experience’ – with sentiment increasing from 61% in 2021 to 65% in 2022. PSBs’ programmes in this area dominated the list of most-watched programmes in 2022, with England’s quarter-final in the FIFA World Cup (16.1m viewers), HM Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral (13.2m viewers), and the Platinum Jubilee (13.2m viewers) holding the top spots.

The report also found that take-up of SVoD services stalled in 2022 due to cost-of-living pressure on households and growing competition among SVODs.

Netflix has maintained its position as the largest SVoD provider in the UK, with 59% of households subscribing. Disney+ (25%) added an additional 746,000 households between the first and fourth quarters of 2022, taking its subscription base up to 7.1 million households, but alongside Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, it fell in Q1 2023. Apple TV+ bucked this trend and increased its volume of subscriber homes by two percentage points compared to the same quarter in 2022. With subscriptions to Apple TV+ provided as a free trial with new Apple device purchases, 18% of total Apple TV+ subscriptions were free in Q1 2023 (Q1 2022: 14%), compared with just 2% of Netflix and 3% of Amazon Prime Video subscriptions.

The average number of SVoD subscriptions per UK household taking at least one SVoD service remained stable between Q1 2022 and Q1 2023, at just over two per household.

The report says that the overall household take-up of SVoD services is now appearing to approach a plateau, but revenue growth is still healthy. The SVoD sector generated an estimated £3.3bn in the year, up 21.5% year on year driven by a combination of price rises and overall growth in subscriptions, which increased from 39.7 million in Q4 2021 to 42.2 million in Q4 2022.

Netflix accounted for half of all SVoD revenue in 2022, with the four largest services (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and NOW) taking a 93% market share.


Jon Creamer

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