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Young viewers snub traditional TVs for smartphones and tablets

Friday, August 7th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Young people are watching more TV on computers and smartphones than on a traditional TV set, an Ofcom report has revealed.

The regulator’s 2015 Communications Market Report said 57% of 16 to 24-year-olds regularly watch on-demand and catch-up TV on a laptop or PC.

Almost half (45%) watch on a smartphone and four in 10 (40%) watch on a TV connected to a set-top box.

On smartphones, short video clips are more popular than watching a film or TV programme, with 42% of people saying they watch short videos on YouTube, Instagram Video or Vine on their phone, compared to 21% who watch a film or TV show.

Despite the growth in online viewing, TV still reaches the overwhelming majority of people. 92% watch TV each week, down slightly from 93% in 2013.

The average time spent in front of the TV in 2014 was 3 hours 40 minutes, according to the report, 11 minutes less than in 2013 and down for a second consecutive year.

The greatest drop was seen among children (aged 4-15), falling by 12% from 2 hours 14 minutes in 2013 to 1 hour 58 minutes in 2014.

Smart TV

Those aged 25-34 watched almost 9% less, from 3 hours 5 minutes to 2 hours 49 minutes. 16 to 24-year-olds watched 6% less TV, from 2 hours 28 minutes in 2013 to 2 hours 18 minutes last year.

The TV is the device people say they would miss the most, with 37% of adults giving it as their answer.

More than half (56%) of UK TV homes had a TV connected to the internet, either via a set-top box or smart TV, by the end of 2014, according to research from media consultancy 3 Reasons.

Around a third (34%) of connected TV users watch content via free catch-up services from public service broadcasters such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All4 and Demand 5.

Subscription-based on-demand services are also becoming increasingly popular, with 15% of all adults using services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The Ofcom report also said the number of 4G subscriptions in the UK had leapt from 2.7m to 23.6m in 2014, while smartphones overtook laptops as the most popular way to get online.

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