It's official: young people spend more time streaming than watching live TV


In its 2016 Communications Market Report, Ofcom is reporting that the amount of live TV being watched by young adults is a fraction of what is watched by older generations, as online video and catch up services take over.

The amount of live TV watched in absolute terms reduced by an average of four minutes per person per day, but the drop was much more pronounced amongst 16-24 year olds, whose 15 minute reduction in viewing is the biggest drop since 2010.

The reason for this drop is not that less video is being consumed, but that viewing habits are rapidly transitioning from live TV to online video, which is a process that is happening much more quickly amongst the young.

A generational difference

The report states that those aged between 16 and 24 get 47% of their video content through 'Online clips' and 'On demand' providers, compared to just 36% through live TV.

Amongst these video on demand services Netflix is currently the most popular with 23% of adults having watched it, while Amazon Prime Video sits in second with 7% and Now TV lags behind with 4%.

The figures sit in stark contrast to those for the over-65s, who still get 83% of their video viewing from live TV, but spend less than 1% of their video time on online video and on demand services.

Amongst British adults as a whole (counted as everyone over the age of 16), live TV is still king, with 63% of video being consumed through live TV, compared to a combined 15% through on demand and online video.

In spite of this drop, broadcast revenues are still up by 3% to £13.6bn, suggesting that broadcasters are dealing well with this transition.

The figures confirm what we've suspected for several years now, but it's interesting to see the data for ourselves. Live TV offers neither the convenience nor the flexibility of on demand or online video, and is being abandoned slowly in favor of the latter.

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Jon Porter

Jon Porter is the ex-Home Technology Writer for TechRadar. He has also previously written for Practical Photoshop, Trusted Reviews, Inside Higher Ed, Al Bawaba, Gizmodo UK, Genetic Literacy Project, Via Satellite, Real Homes and Plant Services Magazine, and you can now find him writing for The Verge.