The United Kingdom is one of the most competitive television markets in the world. Viewers in the United Kingdom are more likely to watch catch-up television services than in other major markets. A fifth claim to be watching less television than the previous year, which may be partly explained by increased viewing on tablets and smartphones and increased viewing of online video subscription services.
The tenth annual International Communications Market Report from Ofcom includes the results of consumer research conducted online with over 9,000 people in nine countries: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain Sweden, the United States, Japan and Australia.
A third of respondents from the United Kingdom claimed to have a digital video recorder, the same number as from the United States.
76% said they had a high definition television, slightly more than 71% for the United States.
42% said they had a connected television, either through a smart television or a connected device, which was higher than any of the comparator countries apart from Spain.
A greater proportion of respondents from the United Kingdom said they view catch-up services than in any of the comparator countries.
Two thirds claimed to have viewed an online television or film service in the week before the survey. 81% said they had in the previous month.
The figure was driven primarily by catch-up services provided by both free-to-air broadcasters, at 44%, and pay-TV providers, at 29%.
70% of respondents in the United Kingdom had used a catch-up service from a free-to-air broadcaster within the previous month, the highest proportion of any country surveyed.
46% had used catch-up or on-demand service of a pay-television provider in the previous month. This was again the highest proportion among the survey countries. For the United States, which has a much higher penetration of pay television, the figure was 28%, with just 16% viewing in the previous week.
Among those in the United Kingdom, 26% said they had watched non-broadcaster subscription video-on-demand services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, within the previous week, compared to 38% in the United States.
In the United Kingdom 39% had done so in the previous month, compared to 49% in the United States.
In 2014 there were around 5 million online video subscriptions in the United Kingdom, which was by far the highest in Europe at the time, but way behind the United States with 47 million.
These subscription numbers appear low in comparison to the claimed usage. This could be due to strong growth in take-up through 2015, the fact our respondents are all internet users and that multiple users often have profiles within individual accounts.
15% said they had used a download to own or rent video service, compared to 19% in the United States, or 23% in Italy or 26% in Spain.
Watching television remains the most popular, regularly-undertaken communications activity in the majority of comparator countries.
87% of respondents in the United Kingdom said they watched at least once a week, which was higher than in the United States, but slightly lower than Germany, Italy or Spain.
In most of the surveyed countries, people claimed to watch less traditional TV, at the time of, than at the same point the previous year.
In the United Kingdom 22% claimed to watch less, compared to 11% who said they were watching more.
On average, viewers in the comparator countries watched 3 hours 43 minutes of TV per day in 2014. The United Kingdom was close to the average, at 3 hours 40 minutes a day, in line with France and Germany.
Across the European comparator countries, four showed a decline in viewing, while in Poland, the Netherlands and Italy viewing increased, and in Germany it remained level. Average daily viewing was highest in Italy, at 4 hours 22 minutes a day, and lowest in Sweden at 2 hours 33 minutes a day.
The United Kingdom had the largest proportional decline in daily viewing from 2013 to 2014, falling by 11 minutes. Some of that may be explained by increased viewing on tablets and smartphones and increased viewing of online video subscription services.
Our analysis of BARB viewing data so far in 2015 suggests a further decline of 4 minutes a day, or just over half an hour a week.
The International Communications Market Report contains a wealth of comparative data on the use of communications services. It is available for download from the Ofcom web site.