The amount of viewing of broadcast television programmes in the United Kingdom continues to decline. It has fallen by 16% between 2019 and 2022 and by 47% among those aged 16-24. It is even down by 6% over that period among those aged 65-74. These figures include viewing through online services like the BBC iPlayer and ITVX. Contrary to the narrative promoted by broadcasters, these services still only account for a minority of the viewing of their programmes. The reality is that overall viewing of programmes from traditional broadcasters is falling faster than the rise in their online viewing.
Only 14% of viewing of BBC television programmes in 2022 was through the BBC iPlayer. It works out at an average of 8 minutes a day per individual. It has since risen to 18% of BBC viewing in the first half of 2023.
Online viewing of ITV programmes averaged only 2 minutes a day per person, or 7% of all ITV viewing in 2022, although it has risen to 10% since the launch of ITVX.
The average online viewing of Channel 4 was also only 2 minutes a day, although that accounted for 12% of viewing of its programmes.
Online viewing of television programmes across all broadcasters averaged at 16 minutes a day, or 6% of all video viewing.
Fewer than eight out of ten individuals over the age of four watched at least 15 consecutive minutes of television programmes on a television set over a week in 2022. The weekly reach has fallen from 91% in 2017 to 79% in 2022 and the rate of decline is increasing, following a boost during the lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic.
The largest declines in weekly reach have been among 16-24-year-olds, down from 82% in 2017 to 54% in 2022, while among those aged 4-15 it has fallen from 87% to 60%.
BBC One is the only channel that now reaches more than half of the country each week, with reach down from 70% in 2017 to 58% in 2022.
In its annual Media Nations report, the communications regulator Ofcom estimates that adults aged 16-34 watch an average of 36 minutes of live television a day, with a further 11 minutes of recorded playback, and 16 minutes on online viewing of broadcast programmes. That works out at just over an hour a day, compared to 54 minutes watching other online video programming and 72 minutes a day on other video platforms, like YouTube and TikTok.
Across all individuals aged over 4 years, 60% of their viewing is still to programmes from broadcasters, with two hours a day spent watching live television, 25 minutes on recorded playback, and 15 minutes of online viewing, or two hours 51 minutes in total. A further 37 minutes is spent watching other online video services, with 46 minutes through online video sharing platforms, out of a total of 4 hours 28 minutes a day of video viewing across all devices.
In 2017, Ofcom reported that 71% of all video viewing was to programmes from broadcasters, watched for an average of three and a half hours a day, of which 9 minutes was viewed online.
Broadcasters have gained an average of 6 minutes a day of online viewing over five years but seen a net loss in total viewing of 52 minutes a day.
That does not mean that people are not watching television anymore, far from it, but they are certainly watching less programming from broadcasters.
Even those aged 16-34, who are traditionally light viewers, still watch over an hour a day, and on average only a quarter of that is online.
Television can still attract mass audiences for major occasions, but only 10 programmes attracted more than 10 million viewers. The number of programmes with more than 4 million viewers across the United Kingdom fell by 52% from 2,490 in 2014 to 1,184 in 2022.
Only 48 programmes attracted more than four million viewers on online video subscription services, with Netflix accounting for the vast majority.
The most-watched programme of 2022 was the World Cup football quarter final between England and France with an average audience of 16.1 million. The state funeral of the Queen was watched by an average of 13.2 million on BBC One.
The annual Media Nations report from the communications regulator Ofcom provides a range of statistics about viewing and listening across the United Kingdom and for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.