Ofcom published their second 'Media Nations' report today which looks at how the UK is watching and listening to content. It is a thorough (and long!) report that breaks down what we are consuming, how we are consuming it and how this has evolved over time.
The headline cutting through is that YouTube and Netflix are now the 2nd and 3rd most watched 'channels' (a term that has to have a new meaning in this evolving media landscape) and are the most popular sources of content for young adults (defined as 18-34). The report states that 47% of all homes have a paid-for streaming service (SVoD) with total subscriptions rising to 19.1m. They have overtaken pay-TV, but the evidence suggests that these are augmenting, not replacing linear broadcast.
This may sound bleak for Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs), but dig a little deeper into the report and actually linear broadcast TV is in good health. The British public still watches 3 hours 12 minutes of broadcast TV each day and major broadcast moments cut through in a way other media can not possibly reach. Total viewing has reduced by 11 minutes on the previous year, but this is a smaller reduction than many anticipated and is still the most popular way to consume content.
Revenues are also stable and growing, with a 1.1% increase in pay-TV revenue and TV getting a stable slice of the growing advertising pie. The lesson and challenge for broadcasters is that content rules and the PSBs need to constantly look at their offerings to make sure they are relevant, desired by (particuarly younger) audiences and accessible on a range of devices.
So what does this mean for the policy debates currently surrounding TV? For one thing it calls into question suggestions to extend prominence into the online world. Linear broadcast is holding up and making money, so should compete for attention by investing and producing the content audiences want, not by making it harder to find online content. If young people want different formats and new types of content, PSBs should meet these evolving consumer demands, not constrain online providers and reduce consumer choice.
The report also covers audio too and the good news is that digital radio is growing and accounts for 56% of all listening. DAB remains the most listened to format, with the proportion of households with a DAB radio increasing 3% to 67%. 83% of households can now get a digital radio signal and we're seeing an improvement on the roads too, with 73% of roads able to get DAB. Combined with increasing 4G coverage, that makes nearly everyone in the UK able to listen to digital radio through DAB or the internet. In content terms we all seem to love a podcast, but the data says this is mostly with younger people and only one in eight adults listen to them in total. A review of radio broadcast is getting underway and we look forward to sharing our view on how the radio landscape will evolve.