Almost six in ten adults in the United Kingdom used a video on demand service in 2015. That includes free services like the BBC iPlayer as well as subscription services like Netflix. Video on demand accounts for 12% of viewing time on average, but it is much higher among those aged 16-24, who claim to spend less than half of their viewing time watching live or recorded television.

The video on demand adoption figure is based on Kantar Media TGI research as reported by the communications regulator Ofcom in its Communications Market Report 2016.

Among those aged 16-24, the proportion who used video on demand at any time in a year rose to 72%. The research suggests that adoption appears to be slowing, even plateauing, among younger adults, although it is continuing to rise among older users, with adoption of 35% for those aged over 65.

The BBC iPlayer remains the most popular service, used by almost a third of adults in the country at some point in 2015. Video on demand from Sky was used by 16% of adults, with usage of Netflix at a similar level, up from 10% in 2014. Amazon Prime usage was at 9%, while BT and TalkTalk TV were at 2-3%, reflecting their smaller installed base.

The Ofcom Digital Day diary suggests that the weekly reach across all paid-for on-demand services rose to 26% in 2016, up from 18% in 2014. Among those aged 16-24 reach has risen to 57%, up from 33% two years previously.

Paid-for on-demand services here include online video subscription services, pay-per-view, rental and download to own.

23% of those aged over 16 claimed to have used Netflix in their diary week, up from 13% in 2014. 7% claimed to have used Amazon Instant Video.

The BARB Establishment Survey estimates that there were more than 5 million households with a Netflix subscription at the end of 2015, while there were over 1.5 million Amazon Instant Video homes. The latest BARB research indicates that the number of Netflix homes increased to almost 6 million in the first quarter of 2016.

Tracker research from GfK suggests that the most popular reason for signing up to an online video subscription service is to access a back catalogue of television programmes or movies, followed by original series produced by the provider and then new movie releases. Fewer said they did so because it was cheaper than a pay television subscription.

Three quarters of online video subscribers also had a subscription to a pay-television service, including 45% of Netflix users that also had a Sky television subscription.

Three out of ten users also had multiple online video subscriptions, with 17% of users having both Netflix and Amazon.

The Ofcom diary research records that those aged over 16 spent just 6% of their viewing time watching paid-for on-demand services, and the same for free services, compared to 63% for live television and 17% for recorded programmes.

In terms of minutes, that amounts to about a quarter an hour a day for paid on-demand and around the same for free on-demand viewing, compared to three hours twenty-five minutes a day of live and recorded television.

However, among those aged 16-24, paid-for and free online video accounted for 20% and 13% respectively, compared to 36% and 12% for live and recorded television.

The proportion of paid on-demand viewing reduces to 12% for those aged 25-34 and 9% for 35-44 year-olds.

That is a total of nearly fifty minutes a day watching paid or free on-demand video, compared to nearly two and a half hours of live and recorded television.

Proportion of Viewing Time in the United Kingdom in 2016

The Ofcom Digital Day research is based on self-reported behaviour from a nationally representative sample of over 1,500 individuals aged over 16 across the United Kingdom who completed a paper diary for seven days.

It should be noted that the sample of 16-24 year-olds is based on just 129 respondents and this age group only accounts for 12% of the population in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, it suggests a significant switch from live television to on-demand programming, notably to paid services.

The Communications Market Report 2016 is available for download from the Ofcom web site and contains a range of useful data on the use of communications services in the United Kingdom.