Losing sleep over TV – five findings from this year’s Ofcom CMR

Last week, the Ofcom Communications Market Report was published – a 243-page tome of unbiased research into consumer behaviour and media industry revenues, with interesting commentary. We’ve read the entire report end-to-end – here are five of our favourite facts:

1. Bingeing your life away

Binge-viewing – watching multiple episodes of the same show in a row – is now routine in the UK. 79% of adults claim to ‘ever’ do it, with 35% bingeing on a weekly basis.

It’s even more common with younger viewers – 53% of teens and 62% of 16-24 year olds claim to binge watch TV every week.

But while consumers appreciate having entire seasons of shows available all at once, bingeing can have a negative impact on other areas of their lives. A third of adults who binge watch claim that this has caused them to miss out on sleep, and a quarter have neglected housework or chores.

35% of binge viewers say that they have cut down on this type of viewing in some way – by rationing the amount of TV they watch, finding an alternative hobby to distract them, or even cancelling their on-demand or subscription streaming services.

2. Still staring at the TV screen

The total time watching TV decreased by 4 minutes between 2015 and 2016 – linear TV watching decreased while time-shifted viewing remained unchanged.

However, the average total time spent with the TV screen has not changed – the decrease in linear TV viewing was offset by an equivalent increase in unmeasured viewing, which refers to time when the TV is in use but the content can’t be audio-matched by BARB; this includes gaming, watching SVOD services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, DVDs or box sets, and using apps on smart TVs.

Consumers are spending as much time as they previously did with their TV sets – but with access to more types of content, they are changing their preferences and behaviours.

3. For teens, YouTube > iPlayer

Online on-demand and streaming services have deftly leapt into the realm of mainstream adoption. 67% of adults claim to have used a broadcaster VOD service such as BBC iPlayer or the ITV Hub, and 45% have access to a SVOD service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Teens are more interested in digital-first video services than broadcaster VOD – two-thirds of teens use YouTube to watch TV content, and they are more likely than adults to use Netflix, Now TV, WWE Network, Disney Life and Hayu.

4. Broadcast TV is for sport and news

The role of broadcast TV is changing as consumers have more access to different devices, platforms and services. Broadcast TV, broadcaster VOD and SVOD services are all used interchangeably for alone time, family time and de-stressing – but where broadcast TV stands out is for keeping up with the latest news and sport, and for background noise.


The increasing importance of news and sport in driving TV audiences is reflected in the increasing cost of sports rights, as broadcasters compete for the key rights that will attract large audiences and advertiser budgets. For multichannels, spend on sports rights increased 24% between 2015 and 2016.

5. Let me take a selfie

72% of all UK adults are on Facebook; for many, it is the preferred medium for sharing news and communicating with friends and family.

62% of online adults post images and videos online, of which around a quarter post selfies. On average, people take six selfies before choosing one to post on social media. 44% edit their selfies before posting, and 47% of adults feel pressure to look good online.

Some consumers are aware of privacy issues surrounding social media platforms. Half of consumers are aware that online photos and videos are difficult to delete from the internet – and 56% of parents do not post pictures of their kids on social media, suggesting that their children’s lives should remain private.


If you’re wondering about how consumers are spending their time, what TV series to binge watch, or which of your six selfies you should post, we can help!

About Karin Bergvall

Karin Bergvall is a senior consultant at MTM. She spends her days thinking about how new media and technology will impact companies and consumers, with a particular focus on OTT video and ad tech.