Around two-thirds of homes in the United Kingdom have access to an online video subscription service. Available in six out of ten households in the country, Netflix is the third most popular starting point for people when turning on a television to for something to watch. Netflix is also the third most likely service to be watched before turning off a television, which may be related. Research commissioned by the communications regulator Ofcom unpicks different patterns of viewing among different groups of viewers.
Ofcom commissioned TRP Research to analyse BARB viewing panel data. 8,560 panellists were segmented into five distinct groups, according to how much television they watched.
The research investigated viewing activity for around half a million viewing sessions from when a television was turned on to when it was turned off, analysing switching between services during the session.
The research found that heavy viewers, making up 30% of all television viewers, had an average of three viewing sessions a day, split between morning, afternoon, and evening, with an average of eight switches of service per session, each of which averaged 159 minutes. 89% of their viewing was to traditional channels. Over three quarters of them are aged over 55 and 30% live alone.
The second largest segment, representing 28% of television viewers, watched an average of one to two hours of television per session, three times a day, with an average session length of 110 minutes and around seven switches per session. 62% of their viewing was to traditional channels, with 14% to online video subscription services and 8% to broadcaster online video services.
Light viewers, accounting for 22% of all viewers, watched an average of two sessions per day, mostly during the evening, with an average session length of 83 minutes and six switches per session. 41% of their viewing was to traditional channels, with 24% to online video subscription services and 12% or just 11 minutes a day to broadcaster online video services.
Those watching less than two hours of television per day, which includes a high proportion of children and young adults, made up 16% of all television viewers. They typically had two viewing sessions per day, with an average viewing session length of 113 minutes and 6 switches per session. Only 6% of their viewing was to traditional linear channels, with a further 3% to broadcaster online video services. The rest was to online video subscription services and other video viewing.
Among those that watched less than two hours of any television a week, comprising 4% of all television viewers, there was typically one viewing session per day but not every day, with an average session length of 60 minutes and 4 switches per session. One might assume that they did not watch traditional television at all, but 89% of their viewing was to traditional channels. It turns out the group the researchers labelled ‘TV Rejectors’ did watch television after all, just not as much as most people.
Only 2% of all viewing sessions analysed were solely to broadcaster online video services. 72% of them were combined with viewing traditional television channels. Those that tended not to watch traditional television channels also had relatively low amounts of broadcaster online video viewing, averaging at just 4 minutes a day, or about half an hour a week.
Netflix was found to be the third most popular first destination among all individuals aged over 4 years, behind BBC One and ITV1 but ahead of all other traditional channels and broadcaster online video services. BBC One was the first destination for 20% of all individuals, followed by ITV1 at 13% and Netflix at 6%. BBC Two came fourth at 4%.
The research counted any service that was automatically on when the television was switched on, providing that it was watched for one minute. This could be influenced by the last state in which the television was previously left as well as the intention of the viewer when switching it back on. Netflix was also the third most popular final service in a session among all individuals.
The research on viewer journeys is presented in the annual Media Nations report published by Ofcom and available from its web site.