TV set viewing trends: UK vs. Australia

Last year we published a series of reports exploring the future of TV, with a particular focus on the way consumers' viewing habits are changing. As we reported then (report available here), the average Australian is watching more and more on-demand content (up 11% in 2017), and less and less live TV (down 10% in 2017). Younger viewers are leading the charge, but we are seeing signs that older generations are also tuning into the convenience of streaming services. 

Following the recent release of the latest UK figures from our colleagues at Enders Analysis (available through Venture Insights here), we take a moment to compare the trends in each market. The first thing to note is that Britons watch significantly more broadcast TV than we do (c. 200 mins per day to our c. 170 mins per day in 2017). 

Looking beyond the absolute levels (and setting aside the differences in delivery platforms and competitive dynamics), it is clear that the UK is witnessing a similar trend in viewing behaviour. In 2018, every age group under 65 watched less broadcast TV than ever (led by younger cohorts), and 2018 saw the sharpest decline on record. Likewise 'unmatched TV set use' - a catch-all phrase covering all non-linear content (including SVOD and YouTube) - continued its inexorable rise. 

However, despite the accelerating shift in viewing habits, live TV has a future in both Australia and the UK. In Australia, we argued that live formats will remain important for a core selection of content that is poorly suited to on-demand viewing, such as sport and news. We would further argue that this holds true more broadly. Indeed, Enders showed that broadcast TV remains unrivalled in terms of reach, particularly during prime time, when broadcast TV reaches 5x more people than streaming services.