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Young people are watching 7 times less broadcast TV over 65s

Young UK adults are now watching nearly seven times less scheduled TV than their older counterparts, as the popularity of streaming services continues to grow, according to Ofcom’s latest Media Nations report.

People aged 16-24 now only spend 53 minutes watching broadcast TV on the average day, while those aged 65 and over are spending 5 hours and 50 minutes in front of the box each day. In fact, viewing among the 65 and over age group is slightly higher than it was a decade ago.

The popularity of US-based, on-demand streaming services in younger adults, in particular, is driving this generation gap. 90% of 18-24-year-olds head straight to on-demand and social video platforms when they are searching for something to watch, bypassing traditional TV. On the other hand, 59% of 55-64-year-olds and 76% aged 65+ turn to TV channels first.

The cost-of-living crisis has seen the number of homes using streaming services start to decline, with households subscribing to at least one falling by more than 350,000 to 19.2 million in spring this year.

At the same time, 5.2 million homes in the UK still subscribe to all three of the most popular platforms – Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video – costing around £300-a-year. And 73% of consumers who have cancelled their subscriptions believe they will resubscribe eventually.

Despite the level of consumer spending and attention being given to subscription services, 82% of people said they had used an on-demand platform from a public service broadcaster (PSB) in the last six months, which is only 1% down on those who had used at least one paid-for service. And 59% of these viewers used a PSB platform to watch channels or programmes live at the same time they are broadcast.

As a result, the average time spent watching platforms such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and All 4 increased to 15 minutes per day on average – up by three minutes per person per day.

“The streaming revolution is stretching the TV generation gap, creating a stark divide in the viewing habits of younger and older people,” said Ian Macrae, Director of Market Intelligence at Ofcom.

“Traditional broadcasters face tough competition from online streaming platforms, which they’re partly meeting through the popularity of their own on-demand player apps, while broadcast television is still the place to go for big events that bring the nation together such as the Euro final or the jubilee celebrations.”


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