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Multichannel Media Consumption Becomes the Norm in the UK

TV is still tops

The UK’s love affair with TV continues, with consumers spending more time with this medium than any other. The largest growth in media time spent, though, is with the web. But what is most interesting is how people are splitting their time with media across traditional and digital formats and platforms, according to a new eMarketer report, “UK Time Spent with Media: Digital Usage Traverses Traditional Platforms.”

The UK’s Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) figure for Q1 2013, as cited by Thinkbox, the marketing body for UK commercial TV, put the average daily time spent with TV (including recorded broadcasts that people viewed within seven days of airing) at 4 hours and 12 minutes. According to GroupM, daily time spent with TV among UK adults is expected to be 4 hours in 2013.

The overriding indication is that TV, and in particular the TV set, remains an important part of UK residents’ daily lives—in terms of general usage and the amount of time spent with the medium. However, smart TVs and online and mobile video viewing are facilitating a change in the way consumers watch content.

But online TV viewing is still at a nascent stage in the UK. According to GlobalWebIndex, the activity accounted for a relatively small proportion of the time UK internet users surveyed spent with online activities, at just 0.47 hours per day.

As with TV, the number of devices available for the consumption of internet content has risen markedly over the years. The difference here is that consumers have been going online on many different devices for much longer than they have been consuming TV content on various devices.

And now more than ever, the tools are in place to allow browsing to occur pretty much anywhere, at any time—particularly with 4G mobile access rolling out. Data from Ofcom shows UK consumers are increasingly using devices other than a PC/laptop to access the internet, with mobile phones, games consoles, tablets, portable media players and ereaders all seeing significant gains in usage between 2010 and 2012.

It seems that the most popular online activities are, more and more, being ported across devices. Even aspect ratio issues and less-optimized displays aren’t holding back this type of behavior. For example, video is creeping into smartphone use, with eMarketer estimating that 50.0% of UK smartphone users will view mobile video content on their devices in 2013.

The challenge for marketers lies in reaching people effectively without adding to their “bandwidth.” Many UK consumers may already be at, or close to, the saturation point when it comes to media consumption.

It’s highly likely that consumers won’t take too kindly to incessant pre-roll, pop-up and banner ads impinging on this time. Of course, marketers can also view the increasing amount of additive time spent with media as a major positive, providing them with a greater number of touchpoints and longer periods of time in which to engage consumers.


The full report, “UK Time Spent with Media: Digital Usage Traverses Traditional Platforms,” also answers these key questions:

  • How much time are UK consumers spending with various media?
  • How much media consumption is occurring via traditional channels vs. digital ones?
  • What can trends among younger demographics portend about an even more disrupted future media consumption landscape?
  • In such a complex and fast-changing environment, how can marketers effectively deliver their messages?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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