There has been a major shift in the UK’s viewing habits, with the number of UK subscriptions to television streaming services such as Netflix overtaking those to traditional pay-television for the first time.
The findings from the media regulator OFCOM also found spending by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 on new, UK-made TV programmes fell to a 20-year low.
At the same time, people are spending less time watching television: average daily viewing on the television set fell by nine minutes in 2017 – and is down 38 minutes since 2012.
The findings are part of Ofcom’s Media Nations report, a comprehensive study of major trends in the UK’s television, radio and audio sectors, published today.
The report highlights a shift within the UK television industry, driven by the rise of the major global internet companies and the changing habits and preferences of UK audiences.
UK subscriptions to the three most popular online streaming services – Netflix, Amazon Prime and Sky’s Now TV – reached 15.4 million in the first quarter of 2018, overtaking the number of pay-TV subscriptions, at 15.1 million.
The amount of time spent watching broadcast television on the TV set has continued to fall, and in 2017 stood at an average of 3 hours 22 minutes a day.
This is down nine minutes on 2016, and 38 minutes since 2012. There were steeper falls among children and viewers aged 16 to 34, meaning the over-65s watched four times as much broadcast television as children in 2017.
Sharon White, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said: “Today’s research finds that what we watch and how we watch it are changing rapidly, which has profound implications for UK television.
“We have seen a decline in revenues for pay TV, a fall in spending on new programmes by our public service broadcasters, and the growth of global video streaming giants. These challenges cannot be underestimated.
“But UK broadcasters have a history of adapting to change. By making the best British programmes and working together to reach people who are turning away from TV, our broadcasters can compete in the digital age.”