UK: Perspectives On The UK Television Sector 2012

Six billion hours. And that's in a quiet month. The amount of time the UK devotes to television continues to astound and perplex.

About 54.2 million people watch television in a given week, according to measured consumption data. This is equivalent to a reach of about 95 per cent of the population aged 4+.1 On a typical evening in the United Kingdom, at about 9pm, some 27 million people are watching television.2 If we add in an estimate of TV viewing that is not currently measured, that is programme viewing on computers, tablets and smartphones, and by the under 4s,3 in a busy month total TV viewing in the UK is equivalent to all the time spent on all social networks worldwide - some 6.5 billion hours.4

Exactly why television occupies so much of our collective time - about a quarter of our waking hours - has been the subject of much debate for decades. Many pundits have foreseen an imminent plummet in TV viewing.5 The arrival of new, more efficient ways of watching television, and perceived falling standards of programming, are among the factors expected to precipitate a fall in TV viewing. Pundits can be fallible: TV viewing volumes have remained stable.

Looking ahead, Deloitte's assessment is that a sharp, imminent plunge in TV viewing is unlikely.

Why people watch TV

The principal reason why people watch television in the quantities they do is because television provides a daily stream of high-quality but low-cost content, which is diverse and popular, engaging and relaxing. It is also sufficiently entertaining and informative that viewers are willing, in seeming perpetuity, to come back for more.6

As well as satisfying our needs for entertainment and information, television is also a key enabler of another fundamental human need - being social.

Not all of us watch TV purely out of choice. For some - likely to number in the millions - a motivation for watching TV is to fill time. As TV offers so many hours of content, all at the push of a remote control button, it is a popular choice (or fallback) for just passing time. TV's enduring and voluminous appeal is down to multiple factors. And as long as television continues delivering this and subject to no other medium being able to emulate TV's offer, it is likely to maintain - at our collective behest - its grip on our time. Only nine per cent of our survey respondents disagreed "strongly" with the statement "I cannot imagine my life without television"; 22 per cent of the entire sample and 26 per cent of 25'44 year olds agreed "strongly".7

High'quality and low'cost The emergence of civilisation went hand'in'hand with the development of the first forms of popular entertainment. Storytelling, contest and drama have always been core to entertainment, and in relatively recent years, television has been appropriated to deliver this entertainment. Entertainment has for millennia been professional, as talent is scarce and stagecraft expensive. Sharing the most precocious talent (actors and storytellers) and the best sets across as wide an audience as possible has long been the target business model. Television has extrapolated these dynamics, and through national and global distribution, enabled production budgets in the tens of millions of pounds to be shared among hundreds of millions of viewers.8

Television's huge reach enables its production costs, which can run into millions of pounds per hour, to be shared across millions of viewers. As television's reach is greater than most other media, it is hard for any other medium to compete with it.

When presented with a choice we tend to opt for higher quality outputs - hence the marked preference for professional TV productions over user-generated content. We also opt for lower prices. Television blends high production values with competitive pricing.

The relatively low cost of television also applies to the cost of television sets, which have fallen steadily over time. In the 1970s, businesses were built on renting television sets, which were otherwise unaffordable for millions. By 2011, the cost of a TV set was sufficiently low so that even though it was a non-World Cup year, 9.3 million TV sets were sold, equivalent to one new TV set for every three households in the UK.9 The purchase of new TV sets tends to encourage viewing.

Something for almost everyone

Television's diversity makes it highly inclusive.

Television offers an increasingly wide range of genres and programmes catering for the UK's diverse spectrum of tastes, stratified by an ever richer blend of nationalities and social classes. A small proportion of the population claims not to have a television, but for the other 98 per cent, television addresses, in various dosages, a need.

Television can deliver complex, but rewarding, Scandinavian thrillers that dominate dinner party conversations in select postcodes in North London.10 The same medium can deliver coverage of darts in high definition behind a pay wall, as well as a daily serving of soap operas watched by a faithful audience of millions. It is our trusted source of news, with news bulletins dominating the top 100 programmes watched week in, week out.11

Television can offer multiple variants of the same genre. The Million Pound Drop, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, University Challenge, Britain's Best Brain, Pointless and Cleverdicks are all examples of quiz shows, each appealing to different audiences.

Near 100 per cent reach multiplied by, for tens of millions of us, several hours of TV viewing a day adds up to over six billion hours viewing per month.

Engaging and relaxing

What people want from television is as varied as our population. For some, TV's primary role is to inform, via documentaries and the news. But the majority of us look to television as a primary way to relax.

At the end of a day we seek out entertainment that enables us to wind down while still being engaged. For over half of the population, TV is the "best way" of doing this (see Figure 2 for breakdown by age). TV's capacity to relax is higher among women: 57 per cent "strongly" or "slightly" agree with the statement "Watching TV is the best way of relaxing at home"; for men the proportion is 50 per cent.12

Television is the original social network

Humans are a highly social breed. The majority of us are happiest when in the company of others,indoors, outdoors, during leisure time or in offices. Many of us struggle without a regular dosage of social activity. Television often provides the motivation to gather with partners, friends, families and occasionally thousands of strangers.

Thus we use TV not just for the content, but also as a justification for being with others.

Television's ability to bring the family together is particularly noted by younger age groups: two'thirds of 16'18 year olds we polled agreed "strongly" or "slightly" with the statement "Watching TV is a good way of bringing the family together" (see Figure 3).

As we accrue devices, watching television together is likely to take on a new twist. In families with multiple devices, we may end up watching different programmes from the same sofa.

The social nature of television is reinforced by the tendency for TV viewing to be greater when programmes are watched with others. Most entertainment tends to be consumed collectively, whether watching sports or enjoying comedy, with just one other person, or tens of thousands.13 The preference for watching in company is strongest among the youngest age groups (see Figure 4).

The proliferation of social networks and high penetration of Instant Messaging (IM), email and other forms of digital communication, add to the social nature of television, through enabling discussion of what's watched across multiple households anywhere in the world.

Millions of people are not seeking the most productive way of watching Television

A commonly heard lament is that we are all working longer hours than ever, we therefore have less spare time than ever and we have even less time for television. For such individuals personal video recorders (PVRs)14 and on-demand access to television are no doubt a major boon.

While those observations may be applicable to some, they may not be typical of the average citizen, who might not be looking for every technological means of optimising TV consumption. It is not everyone's aim to pack as much TV as possible into allotted viewing time. The 55+ represent a third of the UK population aged over 16; older generations tend to watch the most television. Unemployment levels may also be an influence.15

In our survey, about 12 per cent agreed "strongly" with the statement that "I watch television as it's better than doing nothing".16 A further 36 per cent agreed "slightly" with the statement.17

Footnotes

1. For the week of July 2 to July 8, BARB measured an estimated viewing audience of 54.2 million, equivalent to 94.45 per cent reach, based on those aged 4+. Average daily reach that week was 44.4 million, equivalent to 77.5 per cent reach. Source: Weekly Total Viewing Summary, BARB, July 2012. See: http://www.barb.co.uk/report/weekly-viewing

2. In 2011, the average weekday viewing audience for 9pm was 26.78 million. This is based on the population aged 4+. Source: Figure 2.43, The Communications Market 2012, Section 2: TV and audio-visual, Ofcom, July 2012. See: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/cmr/cmr12/UK_2.pdf

3. 3-5 year olds in the US watch about 2 hours of television a day. 59 per cent of children aged under 2 regularly watch over an hour of television a day. Source: TV has negative impact on very young children's learning abilities, Medical News Today, 6 July 2005. See: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/26985.php

4. In October 2011, comScore estimated that the total time spent on all social networks worldwide was 6.7 billion hours, representing about 20 per cent of all time spent online. See: People Spent 6.7 Billion Hours on Social Networks in October, comScore, 4 January 2012. See: http://www.comscoredatamine.com/2012/01/people-spent-6-7-billion-hours-on-socialnetworks-in-october/ . In the same period - October 2011, the average weekly viewing per person was 28 hours and 21 minutes, implying 113 hours of monthly viewing per person. The average population aged 4+ during the period was 57.59 million people. Thus, time spent on watching TV in a month is approximately 6.5 billion hours. For average weekly viewing per person for October 2011, see: Barb Monthly Total Viewing Summary: http://www.barb.co.uk/report/monthly-viewing?period%5B%5D=20111001&button_submit=View+Figures ; for the average population aged 4+ during October 2011, see: Barb Monthly Universe Summary: http://www.barb.co.uk/report/monthly-universe-summary?period%5B%5D=20111001&button_submit=View+Figures

5. The End of the Television, Technorati, 11 February 2012. See: http://technorati.com/entertainment/tv/article/the-end-of-the-television/ Life after Television, George Gilder, 1994. See: http://www.seas.upenn.edu/~gaj1/tvgg.html ; Let's Just Declare TV Dead and Move On, TechCrunch, 27 November 2006. See: http://techcrunch.com/2006/11/27/lets-justdeclare-tv-dead-and-move-onhttpwwwtechcrunchcomwp-adminpostphpactioneditpost3865-2/ ; Internet downloads could see the end of television by 2012, Mail Online, 7 October 2008. See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1071310/Internet-downloads-spell-end-television-2012.html

6. For a detailed analysis of why people watch television, written in 1988 but whose core analysis remains intact, see: Television and its Audience, Patrick Barwise and Andrew Ehrenberg, 1988

7. Deloitte/GfK, June 2012, table 33. Sample: all respondents (4,006 respondents, nationally representative).

8. The cost per episode of major UK productions can be up to £1 million. US shows can cost considerably more with talent costs being a major factor. Source: British TV drama such as Downton Abbey and Titanic will sink without tax breaks, Guardian, 18 March 2012. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/mar/18/british-television-drama-tax-breaks ; Source: HBO lays a big-bucks bet on €ÜBoardwalk', Variety, 7 August 2010. See: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118022673?refCatId=14 ; Source: Plum Role: History's Ultimate Godfather, The New York Times, 25 March 2011. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/27/arts/television/the-borgias-a-showtime-mini-series-starring-jeremy-irons.html

9. Source: The Communications Market 2012, Section 2: TV and audio-visual, Ofcom, July 2012. See: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/cmr/cmr12/UK_2.pdf

10. This article heralds the roster of "intelligent and creative television" and notes how a television series can generate "much intellectual buzz and frisson". Source: The small screen gets better, Gillian Tett, Financial Times, 29 June 2012. See: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/0ed8ef6a-c0b1-11e1-9372-00144feabdc0.html#axzz21TTvMwUd

11. In the week commencing 25 June 2012, television news bulletins filled 27 of the top 100 programmes. Source: Top 100 network programmes, Broadcast, 5 July 2012. See: http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/ratings/top-100-networkprogrammes/5044130.article?blocktitle=TOP-100-NETWORK-PROGRAMMES&contentID=37585

12. Deloitte/GfK, June 2012, table 30. Sample: all respondents (4,006 respondents, nationally representative).

13. Based on discussions with industry executives.

14. In some markets Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) are also known as Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)

15. In many developed countries, including the UK, unemployment levels have risen over the last five years. In June 2012, the number of those unemployed for over a year was at its highest level since 1996. Among those working part time, according to official data, 1.42 million people are doing so because they cannot find full-time work. Surprise fall in UK unemployment, Financial Times, 16 May 2012. See: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8df12980-9f36-11e1-a455-00144feabdc0.html#axzz21MgB5aVL

16. Deloitte/GfK, June 2012, table 41. Sample: all respondents (4,006 respondents, nationally representative).

17. Deloitte/GfK, June 2012, table 41. Sample: all respondents (4,006 respondents, nationally representative).

To read the rest of this article together with its remaining footnotes please click here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions