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UK love of catch-up means we 'won't be tied to the TV schedule' this Christmas

Thursday, December 10th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

UK viewers are more likely to watch catch-up TV over Christmas than viewers in any other major country, according to Ofcom.

Research by the telecoms regulator has revealed that 31m UK adults – about 70% – will use free catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub throughout December.

TV viewers in the UK are also more likely to watch catch-up TV on a tablet (16%) and use an online service to watch TV or films than those in the other countries sampled by Ofcom.

Despite these trends, traditional ‘linear’ TV remains the most popular way of tuning in, particularly on New Year’s Eve. More than nine in 10 viewers (11.4m) watched live at midnight last year.

The findings are part of Ofcom’s International Communications Market Report 2015, published today.

Overall, people in the UK are watching 3 hours and 40 minutes of TV per day, just below the average for sampled countries, which is 3 hours, 43 minutes.

Americans watch the most TV overall (4 hours, 42 minutes), while the Swedish watch the least (2 hours, 33 minutes).

The UK saw the greatest decline in traditional live TV viewing among comparator countries, decreasing by 4.9% from 2013 to 2014.

Ofcom said 42% of UK homes own a television connected to the internet, making families increasingly likely to use catch-up services such as All 4 or Sky-on-Demand.

Seven in 10 of the UK’s connected TV owners are watching such content, while more than half (54%) are watching content via a subscription service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.

The technology suffering as a result of these changes is the DVD player, according to Ofcom. A large proportion of people in every sampled country reported watching DVDs or Blu-Ray discs less this year, with only a small number saying they watched more.

James Thickett, Ofcom’s director of research, said: “UK viewers won’t be tied to the TV schedule this Christmas.

“More than anywhere else, we’re watching TV and films at a time that suits us, on a range of devices, in and out of the home. So this year, more people can fit their festive TV viewing around opening presents and carving the turkey.”

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