Included in the Ofcom Communications Market Report for 2015 is a detailed breakdown of the state of media consumption in the UK.

Digital media services have grown in popularity, driven by younger audiences, and an increased uptake of connected TVs and devices that enable TVs to become smart. 

There is a significant generational gap in media habits, between those aged 16-24, and those who are older.

Just 50% of the viewing time of 16-24 year olds is live TV, compared to 69% for all adults, and 16-24 year olds spend 8% of their viewing time watching short video clips online, compared to 2% for all adults.

When it comes to accessing on-demand and catch-up services, computers and smartphones are (unsurprisingly) more popular than set-top boxes among 16-24 year olds.

The 16-24 age group was the only one for whom the set-top box was not the most frequently-cited device. Both men and women in this age group were more likely to claim use of both smartphones and desktop/laptop computers than set-top boxes for viewing on demand and catch-up services.

 

Younger audiences and short-form video

As well as time-shifting content through on-demand and catch-up services, younger audiences are huge consumers of short-form video.

Of those people who view short-form video clips, 16-24 year olds are the most avid viewers, with over a quarter (28%) saying they watch them at least every day, and 27% saying they watch them at least once a week.

 

Short-form video clips are extremely popular with an even younger audience.

For those aged 6-15 years old who watch short-form video, average daily consumption was over an hour, compared to 14 minutes for those aged 25-34 years old, showing just how different viewing habits are for the younger generation.

 

Smart TVs bring browsing into the living room

It is also interesting to see how many households now have ‘connected’ or smart TVs.

Ofcom’s Technology Tracker indicates that take-up of smart TVs (with in-built internet connectivity) among UK TV homes stood at 21% at the start of 2015, a figure which has almost doubled over the past year (from 12% in 2014). 

Smart TV sales, as a proportion of all TV sales, have almost doubled in the past two years, increasing from 28% in Q1 2013 to 54.2% in Q1 2015.

However, the rate of growth has slowed in 2014, with smart TVs as a proportion of all TV sales increasing by only nine percentage points, compared to a 17 percentage point increase in 2013.

This trend is interesting as it could lead to higher digital video consumption, through browsing websites, particularly in the living room of a household. 

YouTube and Facebook dominate online video

YouTube remains the UK’s most popular online video sharing service, with a total digital audience of 41.5m in March 2015, giving it an active reach of 87% across the total digital population.

YouTube’s total mobile audience (which includes tablets) of 27.1m exceeds the number of people accessing YouTube on desktop and laptop computers by 2.2m. Its active reach across mobile audiences (74%) is 19 percentage points higher than its audience on desktops and laptops.

One reason for this may be that the YouTube app is generally included on Android handsets as part of the suite of pre-installed applications. 

Despite not being a dedicated video-sharing service, claimed use of Facebook for video on mobile exceeds that of all other video sharing sites except YouTube Between April 2014 and March 2015, YouTube had consistently the highest reported claimed use for mobile video, giving rise to average monthly audience of 11.7m people aged 13 and above.

Facebook is also a key source of online video consumption. Overall, based on survey data between April 2014 and March 2015, an average of 9m people used Facebook on their mobile to watch videos.

Facebook has stated publicly that mobile video is one of its major areas of growth. It reported that its global video views grew from 1bn per day in September 2014 to 4bn per day by April 2015, of which 75% were on mobiles.

It should be noted that videos on Facebook and on other platforms may be set to play automatically and therefore may not be actively watched by the user, or they may be used as background music. 

The Ofcom report shows important digital video has become for the younger audience.

Not only are their viewing habits substantially different, but the devices they consume on are as well. For older audiences purchasing smart TVs, viewing habits may also change to be more flexible.

For marketers this opens up further opportunities for targeting video advertising across devices.

The report also highlights the importance of social video, especially for younger generations. With the increase in consumption of short-form video clips, marketers will have to think more carefully about where their audiences are consuming content, as well as the content itself. Traditional 30 second adverts in front of a short-form video may chafe a viewer’s patience. 

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