Young adults in UK are watching notably less TV than older people

By our News Team | 2022

Britons aged 16-24 now watch almost seven times less scheduled TV than those aged 65 and over, country’s communications regulator finds.

People in the UK aged 16-24 spend less than an hour (53 minutes) in front of broadcast TV in an average day – a significant fall of two-thirds in the last 10 years.

In contrast, those aged 65 and over still spend around a third of their waking day enjoying broadcast TV, sitting down for almost six hours (5 hours and 50 minutes) daily. This is actually slightly higher than a decade ago.

“The changes in younger adults’ habits reflect the soaring popularity of US-based, on-demand streaming services,” says Ofcon, Britain’s regulator of communications services. The organisation notes that these statistics reflect a “streaming revolution” that stretches the “TV generation gap”.

Viewing Habits

Photo by Mizuno K from Pexels

It adds that “younger adults now watch almost seven times less scheduled TV than those aged 65 and over”.

Around a fifth of homes in the UK (5.2 million) subscribe to all three of the most popular platforms – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ – costing around US$357 per year.

Netflix the most popular choice for young adults

Nine in ten 18-24-year-old adults bypass TV channels and head straight to streaming, on-demand and social video services when looking for something to watch, with Netflix the most common destination.

However, six in ten (59%) of 55-64-year-olds, and 76% of those aged 65+, still turn to TV channels first.

“The streaming revolution is … creating a stark divide in the viewing habits of younger and older people,” Ian Macrae, Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence, said.

“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 [soccer] final or the [Queen’s Platinum] Jubilee celebrations.”

According to a media statement from Ofcon, viewing figures of more than 10-million for the recent Women’s Euro 2022 final and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee earlier this year show that broadcast television is still a popular choice for momentous national events, but public service broadcasters continue to see both audiences and levels of viewing fall.