Media nations: UK 2019 Published 7 August 2019

Media nations:
UK 2019
Published 7 August 2019
This is Ofcom’s second annual Media Nations report. It reviews key trends in the television and
online video sectors as well as the radio and other audio sectors. Accompanying this narrative report
is an interactive report which includes an extensive range of data. There are also separate reports
for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The Media Nations report is a reference publication for industry, policy makers, academics and
consumers. This year’s publication is particularly important as it provides evidence to inform
discussions around the future of public service broadcasting, supporting the nationwide forum which
Ofcom launched in July 2019: Small Screen: Big Debate.
We publish this report to support our regulatory goal to research markets and to remain at the
forefront of technological understanding. It addresses the requirement to undertake and make
public our consumer research (as set out in Sections 14 and 15 of the Communications Act 2003). It
also meets the requirements on Ofcom under Section 358 of the Communications Act 2003 to
publish an annual factual and statistical report on the TV and radio sector.
This year we have structured the findings into four chapters.
• The total video chapter looks at trends across all types of video including traditional
broadcast TV, video-on-demand services and online video.
• In the second chapter, we take a deeper look at public service broadcasting and some wider
aspects of broadcast TV.
• The third chapter is about online video. This is where we examine in greater depth
subscription video on demand and YouTube.
• In the last chapter we tune into radio and put it in the context of other audio services,
including podcasts and music streaming services.
Executive summary………………………………………………………………………………..3
Total video and broadcast TV ……………………………………………………………………………………………3
Radio and audio ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………8
Total video………………………………………………………………………………………….11
Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….11
Platform and device ownership……………………………………………………………………………………….12
Revenue ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….25
Broadcast TV and PSB …………………………………………………………………………..28
Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….28
Viewing of broadcast TV …………………………………………………………………………………………………29
Audience attitudes and sentiment……………………………………………………………………………………34
Broadcast revenues, content output and spend ………………………………………………………………..43
Co-productions and the impact on genres ………………………………………………………………………..54
Online video………………………………………………………………………………………..59
Video on demand (VoD)………………………………………………………………………………………………….59
YouTube ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….70
Awareness of online audio-visual regulation and levels of offence ………………………………………76
Radio and audio…………………………………………………………………………………..78
Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….78
Radio and audio listening………………………………………………………………………………………………..80
The UK radio industry …………………………………………………………………………………………………….89
Developments in digital radio………………………………………………………………………………………….92
Audio on demand: music streaming…………………………………………………………………………………96
Audio on demand: the rise of podcasts…………………………………………………………………………….99
Executive summary
Total video and broadcast TV
The pace of change in television raises questions about how UK viewers will be served in
the future
Online content delivery and the emergence of global video providers, notably Netflix and
YouTube, are driving fundamental shifts in viewing habits and industry structures. The internet is
massively increasing the choice available to UK viewers. More than half of UK households now have
their TV connected to the internet and eight in ten adults have a smartphone, which they are
increasingly using to watch video. Around half of UK households now subscribe to at least one
subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) service (such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video) and UK adults
watch, on average, about half an hour of YouTube per day.
Broadcast television, and public service broadcasting in particular, remains valued and accounts
for the majority of people’s viewing, but its use is falling as viewers take up online services. People
watched on average 3 hours 12 minutes of broadcast television in 2018, but this was 49 minutes less
than in 2012, and the fall in younger viewers has been much steeper. Four in ten viewers now say
that online video services are their main way of watching television and film.
Our data provides an evidence base to underpin a national debate about the future of Public
Service Broadcasting (PSB). In July 2019, we launched a nationwide forum, Small Screen: Big Debate.
This will involve discussions with broadcasters, production companies, government, industry bodies,
viewers’ groups and national and regional representatives on sustaining public service broadcasting
(PSB) in future. It will look at where PSB content should be available, who should provide it, and how
to guarantee a mix of high-quality UK content online.
Viewer behaviour continues to shift towards alternatives to broadcast TV, in particular
online video services
Broadcast still accounts for the majority of viewing, but the decline in viewing is accelerating.
Broadcast content accounted for 69% of the average five hours of watching video per person per day
in 2018 (but only 56% of the five hours was live TV). People watched an average of 3 hours 12
minutes of broadcast television a day, 11 minutes less than in 2017 (which was down by 9 minutes
since 2016). The shift is most pronounced among young people: 16-24s watched an average of 85
minutes of broadcast television a day in 2018 – 15 minutes less than in 2017.
Average daily minutes viewed per person, by age
Source: BARB.
Since 2017 viewing by all people of subscription video on demand (SVoD) (+7mins) and YouTube
content (+6 mins) has grown. The four and a half hours of total video content watched by 16-34s
includes three main components: Live TV (83 mins); YouTube (64 mins) and SVoD (52 mins). For the
youngest adults (aged 16-24), the most-watched platform is YouTube (73 mins). Average minutes of viewing per day
342 349
269 277
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
All individuals (4+)
Children (4-15)
Total video minutes per person per day, adults 16-34, all devices: 2018
Source: Ofcom total AV modelling using BARB, TouchPoints and Comscore data.
Viewers are broadly satisfied with the quality of broadcast TV, but increasingly see video on
demand as the main way to watch TV and film. The fall in broadcast viewing does not appear to be
caused by negative sentiment towards broadcast TV. More than half of adults feel the quality of
broadcast TV programmes has remained the same over the past year, and a further 21% think it has
improved. But 42% of adults consider online video services to be their main way of watching TV and
film, and 38% of SVoD users can imagine not watching broadcast TV at all in five years’ time.
YouTube is a major part of total video viewing and total online time. Twelve per cent of all time
spent watching video, and 13% of all time spent online by adults, is spent on YouTube. Young adults
(16-34s) spend over an hour on YouTube per day, and almost all adult internet users watch YouTube
videos. Whereas most viewing of SVoD is on television sets, a smartphone is the most commonly
used device for watching YouTube.
There are considerably more SVoD subscriptions than pay-TV subscriptions. Subscriptions to
traditional pay-TV services (such as Sky, Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk) totalled 14.3 million in Q1
2019, whereas the total number of subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NOW TV and
Disney Life reached 19.1 million (up from 15.4 million in Q1 2018). This is in part because many
households take more than one SVoD subscription.
Public service broadcasters remain the home of mass-reach UK-made programming
Despite a fall in viewing, PSBs maintain their share of broadcast TV, and audience satisfaction
remains high. The five main PSBs alone maintained a share of 52% in 2018 compared to 51% in
2017. Although audience satisfaction has fallen gradually from 80% in 2014, 74% of PSB viewers still
claim to be satisfied with PSB broadcasting.
PSBs are still important in meeting viewers’ desire for UK content. UK audiences want original, UKproduced and UK-specific programmes. The PSBs delivered over 32,000 hours of UK-made original
content across their channels in 2018. In comparison, the vast majority of SVoD programmes are USmade productions, designed to play out in multiple countries: only 221 hours of the SVoD original
productions available in 2018 were made in the UK.
PSB UK-made drama still resonates with audiences, with Line of Duty the most-watched
programme in 2019 so far with 12.1 million viewing the final episode. Bodyguard was the mostwatched drama in 2018, with 14.3 million viewers for its final episode.
However, a few popular drama and entertainment programmes are not enough on their own to
stem the overall decline in broadcast TV viewing. To counteract the overall drop in broadcast
viewing since 2017, about 34 additional series of Bodyguard would need to have been broadcast in
2018. Similarly, although ITV2’s Love Island gained large audiences in June and July 2018, about 14
‘Love Islands’ would be required to counteract the year-on-year drop in broadcast viewing.
Broadcasters are adapting to changing viewing behaviours and to attract younger viewers who are
using SVoD. All episodes of series 1 (2018) and series 2 (2019) of the BBC’s Killing Eve were made
available as a box set on BBC iPlayer immediately after the broadcast of the first episode. Some 4.6
million people watched the final episode of series 1 online pre-broadcast compared to 3.3 million
who watched the episode live or time-shifted. Other programmes are succeeding by gaining viewers
on other devices and by integrating broadcast content with social media. One episode of ITV2’s Love
Island in 2018 achieved an increase of 24% on its TV set audience with viewers watching on
PCs/laptops, tablets and smartphones, bringing its total to 4.9 million viewers.
But broadcaster-on-demand services (BVoD) are lagging behind SVoD. BVoD services (including
iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and My5) remained at a similar overall level of viewing in 2018 compared to
2017; people in the UK are watching on average around 8 minutes of BVoD a day compared to 26
minutes of SVoD. However, viewers still watch a lot of recorded broadcast content (mainly via a
personal video recorder (PVR): 30 minutes a day on average.
PSB revenues are under pressure, but content investment has been buoyed by third-party
Spend on UK-made original content was 5% (£143m) lower in 2018 than in 2016. 2018 was a big year
for televised sport events, including the FIFA World Cup and the Winter Olympics, so 2016 is the best
year for comparison. PSB spend is coming under pressure due to falling advertising revenues for the
commercial PSBs and a 3.6% (£140m) fall in the BBC’s licence fee revenues (partly due to the
Government’s phased reduction of funding for free TV licences for the over-75s).
PSB network spend on first-run UK originations, by channel (£m)
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters Note: figures are expressed in real terms. BBC portfolio figures include BBC Three,
BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, and BBC Parliament. Figures do not include S4C, BBC Alba, BBC HD,
nations’/regions’ programming, and third-party spend.
The PSBs are finding new ways of financing content, including through co-productions and thirdparty funding for high-end drama. The reduction in PSB network spend has been offset by the
increase in third-party funding for programming, including deficit funding, and co-productions. PSBs
have also been collaborating with global SVoD players. Contributions to the cost of PSB UK original
productions from third parties has more than doubled over ten years. PSB drama programming
received 68% of the total third-party investment in 2018.
Radio and audio
Radio listening and revenues are holding up
Live radio remains popular, with listening to UK-wide commercial stations particularly strong. In
Q1 2019, 89% of UK adults listened to at least five minutes of live radio each week. This varies by
age: 90% of over-64s listened each week compared to only 80% of 15-24s (down from 88% ten years
Commercial radio revenues remained resilient in 2018. Total revenues remained the same year on
year, as increases in both national advertising and sponsorship offset a fall in reported local
advertising revenues.
Commercial radio revenues (£m)
Source: Ofcom / broadcaster returns. 2017 data includes restatements. Adjusted for CPI at 2018 prices.
Digital radio continues to grow…
Digital listening continues to grow, with online an increasingly important factor. The overall digital
share of listening across the UK continues to grow and now stands at 56% in Q1 2019, up from 53%
in Q4 2018. This includes digital audio broadcasting (DAB), online and TV set listening.
DAB remains the most commonly used digital radio platform, but popularity of smart speakers is
growing rapidly. The proportion of adults with a DAB set grew to 67% in Q1 2019 from 64% in Q1
2018. Listening via a mobile phone has also fallen. The largest growth is in listening online, perhaps
driven by the increased take-up of smart speakers – listening to the radio on a smart speaker
increased from 10% of adults in 2018 to 19% in 2019.
276 283 289 294 301
144 140 142 143 129
100 101 107 103 107
22 26 27 30 34
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
National commercial Local commercial Commercial sponsorship Other
542 549 565 571 572
DAB digital radio coverage continues to increase. Following the build-out of the Sound Digital
multiplex, digital radio can now be received by 83% of households and offers 73% coverage on major
roads around the UK. The total number of services carried across local DAB multiplexes increased by
39 to 447 by the end of March 2019.
But there are challenges for radio to focus on, with young people spending more time
listening to online music streaming services
Local radio has gradually been losing out to UK-wide radio ̶ In Q1 2019 just over half of adults
(54% compared to 59% five years ago) listen to local radio and 73% (70% five years ago) listen to
national output. Local commercial radio stations are spread across the age spectrum and BBC local
services largely have older listeners.
Listeners have more choice of content and access, and young people in particular are spending
more time listening to online services. Almost three-quarters of adult weekly listening is to radio
(live, on-demand or radio podcasts). However, 41% of young people’s audio time is spent on music
streaming services and less than a third of their time is spent listening to radio.
Weekly share of audio listening
Source: TouchPoints 2018.
Podcasts represent only a small share of listening but are increasingly popular. One in eight adults
now listen to podcasts each week. The average age of a weekly podcast listener is 39, around ten
years younger than a typical radio listener. YouTube is the platform most used to access podcasts
among weekly listeners; these are video podcasts and are particularly popular among the 35-54 age
group. The most used audio-only service for weekly podcast listeners is BBC iPlayer Radio and is
particularly popular among older podcast listeners. However, for younger podcast listeners, Spotify
and Apple are more likely to be used than individual BBC services.
Adults 15+
Age 15-24
Live Radio On A Radio Set Live Radio On A Laptop, Tablet, Mobile, etc. (Not A Radio Set, Car Radio Or TV Set)
On Demand/Listen Again Radio Programmes Radio Podcasts/Downloads
Streamed Online Music e.g. Spotify, Your Own Personal Digital Music Or Audio Collection – Stored On A Device
Music Video Channels/Sites For Background Listening e.g. Youtube, MTV Your Own Personal Collection On CD, Vinyl Record, etc.
Audiobooks Other Podcasts/Downloads
Radio listening = 32%
Radio listening = 73%
The rapid take-up of smart speakers is both an opportunity and a threat for radio broadcasters.
Twenty per cent of UK households now own a smart speaker such as an Amazon Echo, Google Home
or Apple HomePod. The most common use of smart speakers is to listen to music via a streaming
service (69%) while 56% listen to live radio and 22% to podcasts.
Music streaming subscription revenues grew by 34% in real terms in 2018. The growing take-up of
subscription-based music streaming services such as Spotify Premium drove music streaming
subscription revenues up to £829m in 2018, an increase of 34% since 2017. This compares to
commercial radio revenues of £572m in 2018 (up 0.2%).
Total video
Figure 1.1 Timeline of key launches and events in TV and video
The TV and wider video industries are undergoing a period of rapid change which is transforming the
ways in which audiences watch television. Change is not new to the television sector which, for
example, evolved with the emergence of pay-TV in the 1990s and the introduction of multiple digital
TV channels, culminating in digital switchover which completed in the UK in 2012. However, the rate
at which young audiences in particular are embracing new online video services from global internet
platforms in place of linear services from incumbent UK-based broadcasters, including the BBC and
ITV, suggests that these changes may have a more profound long-term impact on viewing habits.
The current changes are rooted in technological and industry changes including high speed
broadband roll-out, the widespread availability and ownership of connected TV sets and affordable
subscription video services: through the internet viewers can now access a huge variety of TV and
video content. For the viewer choice, and arguably also quality, has never been better. Viewers can
choose from a wide range of services from broadcasters, subscription-video-on-demand (SVoD)
services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video (typically available to view on the TV set with
minimal button clicks on the remote) and the ‘long tail’ of internet video comprising many different
types of content, best represented by YouTube with an estimated 10 billion videos.
However, broadcast TV still accounts for the majority of video consumption with over three hours a
day of viewing on average, and the public service broadcasting channels continue to account for the
majority of this. Moreover, the PSBs retain a vital and unique place in meeting the needs of UK
audiences including by offering content made in the UK for UK audiences to a much greater extent
than any other provider. There are few alternatives to the PSBs in this respect. So, while viewing of
PSB channels has fallen, audiences’ sense of their importance and their satisfaction with the
programmes they show has remained strong.
Nevertheless, with diminishing viewing and more and more people considering online video services
to be their main way of watching TV and film, there are threats to the future relevance of public
service broadcasting. ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are sustained by advertising and while television
advertising revenues have held up well as a source of mass reach for advertisers that is hard to
obtain any other way, there are some indications these are under threat. The BBC, meanwhile, has
needed to cut its costs as television licence fee revenues have fallen, and it faces challenges to justify
its societal value as viewing declines amid a rapidly growing choice of other services. The risks to
broadcast TV and to PSBs are that their revenue falls as viewing falls, and this in turn diminishes their
ability to invest in making UK-focused programming.
The evidence set out below explores viewing, content funding, revenue and audience sentiment. It
describes the current landscape within this process of change.
Platform and device ownership
Despite changing viewing habits, 95% of households in the UK have a TV set receiving
broadcast programmes
The television landscape has been undergoing significant technological and structural changes and
traditional TV services are no longer the dominant way to watch audio-visual content in all
households. Nevertheless, despite the variety of devices available and the increased use of
smartphones in the UK, the TV set is still the most popular way to view audio visual content; 95.2%
of UK homes had a working TV set in the first quarter of 2019. This proportion has decreased slightly
in recent years (in 2012 it was 96.3%).
Homes that have only digital terrestrial TV (DTT) make up the biggest proportion of all UK homes,
totalling 11.3 million (39.7% of all households), an increase of 2.3% since 2012. After previous
gradual declines, the proportion of homes with pay-satellite TV (pay DSAT) has remained relatively
stable year on year (30.8% in Q1 2019, compared to 30.4% in Q1 2018), while digital cable services
(DCAB) decreased further (down about 1 percentage point year on year to 13.6% in Q1 2019). The
proportion of homes with free-to-view satellite services has dipped slightly (6.1% in Q1 2019 and
6.7% in Q1 2018).2
1 Source: BARB Establishment Survey
2 Source: BARB Establishment Survey
Figure 1.2: Platform take-up, households (millions)
Source: BARB Establishment Survey. Household level data. All TV sets in home included so there may be
platform overlaps. Notes: Data points are based on Q4 of each year until 2018, when it changed to Q1. BARB
changed its methodology on the definition of a TV-set-owning household in Q4 2012. In Q4 2015 the ‘claimed
usage’ element was removed, which led to an increase in the TV set homes population. *Digital switchover was
completed across the UK in October 2012. Digital terrestrial TV only = receives digital TV through an aerial and
not through DSAT/DCAB or other platforms. Hybrid IPTV digital terrestrial only = receives digital terrestrial TV
through any of BT TV/TalkTalk TV/YouView/Plusnet TV and not DSAT/DCAB/other platforms.
More than a million homes do not have a television set
A small but growing proportion of households are choosing not to watch broadcast television or
have a television set. Among these homes, the most common reason for not having a TV set is that
they are not interested in watching television programmes (43%). Thirteen per cent of non-TV set
owners claim to have a paid subscription to an online TV/video service such as Netflix or Amazon
Prime Video on a device other than a TV set, and 12% say they watch other types of online TV/video
on another device. 3 Over a million homes (1.2 million, 4.1% of all homes) have broadband and use
other devices for watching TV but do not have a working TV set.
3 Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019
4 Source: BARB Establishment Survey Q1 2019
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Analogue terrestrial only
Hybrid IPTV and digital
terrestrial only
Digital terrestrial only
Digital cable
Free-to-view digital satellite
Pay digital satellite
Analogue cable
Figure 1.3: Reasons for not having a TV set (percentage of households without a TV)
Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019. QH66. What are the reasons why you don’t have a television set in
your household? Base: Adults 16+ in a household with no TV set (2019, 138).
More than half of TV households have a TV connected to the internet
More and more television is watched over the internet. Eighty per cent of homes have a fixed
broadband connection5
, and in November 2018, 66% of residential fixed broadband connections
were superfast products with an advertised download speed of 30Mbit/s or higher. 6 The number of
UK adults watching TV programmes or films online on any device (such as a mobile phone, tablet, or
TV set) is 58% – up from 53% a year ago. 7
Most new television sets sold in the UK are ‘smart TVs’, capable of being directly connected to the
8 Take-up of smart TVs has risen sharply over the last seven years (from 5% of households in
2012 to 47% in 2019). 9 However, a smart TV is not the only way in which a TV set can be connected
to the internet; using another device to connect a TV to the internet 10 has also increased, from 28%
five years ago to 41% in 2019. Combining this with the connection to the internet of a smart TV
shows that more than half (53%) of TV households have, in some way, an internet connection to
their TV. 11
Smartphones lead the way among other devices for watching video
TV content is now accessible via other devices and services, so we need to look more widely than the
TV set itself. Eight in ten adults (79%) now have an internet-enabled smartphone (unchanged since
2018), with most of these (88%) having a 4G service, which typically enables good quality video
streaming over a mobile network. Our research finds that most people now consider a smartphone
as their most important device for going online (52% of those who use the internet in 2019, up from
just 15% in 2013) – this finding is more prevalent among younger age groups (71% for 16-34s) and
5 Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019
6 Source: Ofcom / operators. Published in Ofcom’s UK Home Broadband Performance report page 11. 7 Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019
8 Statista report that in Q4 2018, 76.5% of all televisions shipped in western Europe were smart TVs, 9 Fourteen per cent of those with a smart TV do not connect it to the internet, including a small minority who
don’t have access to the internet
10 This includes set-up boxes, streaming sticks, laptops/PCs and games consoles. 11 Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019
16% 16% 13% 12% 12%
2% 6% 3% 3% 3%
Not interested in
watching TV
Busy with other
Don’t want to
pay TV Licence
Have a paid
subscription to
online TV/ video
service, watched
on another
device (not a TV
Recently moved
Watch other
types of online
TV/ video on
another device
(not a TV set)
Don’t want the
children to
watch TV
Can’t afford to
pay TV Licence
Live in rented
Can’t afford to
replace broken
TV set
Too expensive to
buy and install
less so among those aged 55+ (25%). 12 Our research also reveals that the mobile phone is the media
device that people are most likely to say they would miss the most if it was taken away from them
(51%), having overtaken the television set in 2015.13
Although over half (54%) of households have a tablet device, 2019 is the first year in which
ownership has gone down year on year (by 4pp) – the same trend is seen for ownership of a laptop
(down 3pp to 63%) or a PC (down 4pp to 24%). 14
Broadcast content accounted for over two-thirds of viewing in 2018, despite gains by
SVoD and YouTube
In 2018 individuals watched a total of 4 hours 54 minutes of audio-visual content, per person per
day, across all devices. Despite a rise in SVoD subscriptions, more than two-thirds of total viewing of
video content was broadcast content. Total broadcast viewing (live, time-shifted and on demand,
across all devices) averaged 3 hours 22 minutes per person per day in 2018, down by nearly 11
minutes since 2017. However, 56% of the total viewing was live TV, and since 2017 viewing of SVoD
and YouTube content has grown. 15
SVoD is watched largely on the TV set and consists mainly of TV-like content, so it is reasonable to
assume that for some people it is a substitute for broadcast viewing. It is more open to question to
what degree YouTube watched on the TV set is a substitute for broadcast viewing, as there are many
types of content on YouTube that have no broadcast equivalent, for example gaming channels,
vlogging and instructional videos. YouTube is also more likely to be viewed outside the living room
on mobile devices.
12 Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019 13 Source: Ofcom Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes surveys, 2015 and 2019 14 Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019 15 Source: Ofcom/BARB/TouchPoints/Comscore 16 Source: Ofcom/BARB/TouchPoints/Comscore
Figure 1.4: Total video minutes per person per day: 2018
Change in average minutes per day 2017-2018: all individuals, all devices
Source: Ofcom total AV modelling using BARB, TouchPoints and Comscore data.

Total viewing by younger adults falls into three main types
The greatest changes in viewing habits in recent years have been among young adults (aged 16-34).
Their daily average of four and a half hours of viewing splits into three main constituent parts: live
TV (83 mins); YouTube (64 mins); and SVoD content (52 mins). Live TV viewing is falling year on year
as the other two platforms’ viewing goes up, so it is likely that the three elements will become more
closely comparable in future.
Figure 1.5: Total video minutes per adult aged 16-34 per day: 2018
Change in average minutes per day 2017-2018: 16-34, all devices
Source: Ofcom total AV modelling using BARB, TouchPoints and Comscore data.

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Viewing of SVoD by adults aged 16-34 has increased particularly steeply in the last year, up by 22
minutes to an average of 52 minutes a day. This is largely a result of increasing subscriptions, or
access to subscriptions. But there is evidence that viewing among people who already have these
services has also increased, as more original and licensed content is made available (see Online video
chapter). YouTube consumption among this group has increased by only 5 minutes per day, which is
less than the increase for all individuals (6 minutes per day), indicating that the recent YouTube
growth is as much among over-34s as among younger people.
The youngest group of adults show an even more pronounced shift away from broadcast TV. Those
aged 16-24 watch less video overall but consume more YouTube and use a games console more than
25-34s. They watch 24 minutes less live TV, 14 minutes less recorded TV and 10 minutes less SVoD
content per day.
Figure 1.6: Total video minutes per day, adults aged 16-24 and 25-34: 2018 (broadcast TV sources
in blue): 2018
Source: Ofcom total AV modelling using BARB, TouchPoints and Comscore data.
YouTube and Netflix are the top two most-viewed video services for 18-34 year olds
For adults aged 18+17, BBC One is still the most-watched video service 18 (watched on average for 48
minutes per person per day), and ITV follows closely (37 minutes). For younger adults (aged 18-34),
BBC One drops to fourth place, ITV is third and YouTube is in the lead, watched for more than an
hour a day on average. Netflix also jumps ahead of the two main linear channels. Amazon Prime
17 This analysis looks at adults aged 18+ (instead of 16+ as with other sections of the report) because some of
the sources used only have data for those aged 18+.
18 Video services = linear channels viewed on the TV set (including their +1 channels where appropriate) and
total minutes to other individual video services e.g. individual VoD and streaming services.
Video sits ahead of five linear channels in the top ten, whereas NOW TV just falls out of the top ten
(at just under 4 minutes), behind BBC Two but two places ahead of BBC iPlayer (2 minutes). 19
Figure 1.7: Top ten services watched by 18-34s-year olds, by average minutes per person per day,
compared to viewing minutes for those services for all aged 18+: 2018
Source: BARB. Network 2018 (channels include their +1 channels) / Ofcom calculations using Comscore VMX
2018 UK / TouchPoints 2018 / GfK SVoD Tracker Q1 2019.
Viewing of broadcast TV on the TV set continues to decline
In 2018, viewing of broadcast TV on a TV set continued to decrease, and the rate of decline
accelerated slightly. The average viewing per person per day was 3 hours 12 minutes (this includes
watching live, when programmes were broadcast, and viewing up to seven days after broadcast).
This was down 11 minutes (5%) on 2017 (in 2017 viewing was 9 minutes lower than in 2016). As in
previous years, the decline in viewing was more pronounced among younger audiences, although
almost all age groups’ viewing time declined: 16-24 year olds watched 15 minutes less a day than in
2017 (down 15%), bringing their average daily viewing to just 1 hour 25 minutes, while 65-74 year
olds were the only age group to remain stable year on year (5 hours 33 minutes). 20
19 Source: BARB/Ofcom calculations /Comscore/TouchPoints 2018/GfK SVoD Tracker Q1 2019 20 Source: BARB
Figure 1.8: Average daily minutes viewed per person, by age
Source: BARB.
Looking more closely at children’s viewing, splitting it into smaller age groups, we see that the older
children get, the less linear TV they watch a day. In 2018, younger children (aged 4-6) had the
highest amount of viewing at nearly an hour and a half per child per day. Young teenagers (aged 13-
15) had the lowest amount of daily viewing compared to any other age group, at just over an hour.
Figure 1.9: Average daily minutes viewed by children
Source: BARB.
The decrease in broadcast viewing is not necessarily due to viewers thinking that the quality of
broadcast TV has decreased; more than half of adults feel that the quality of broadcast TV
programmes has remained at the same level over the past year and 21% think that it has improved.
Of the 23% of those who say TV programmes have got worse over the past year, 59% cite ‘more
repeats’ and nearly half (47%) cite ‘lack of variety’, ‘too many reality shows’ (47%) or a ‘general lack
of quality’ (48%). 22
21 Source: BARB 22 Source: Ofcom Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018
342 349
269 277
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
All individuals (4+)
Children (4-15)
The declines in broadcast TV viewing on a TV set have continued into 2019
Broadcast TV viewing overall has seasonal trends, and this year is following the usual pattern for
month-on-month viewing, but like last year, this is at a lower level than the previous year. January to
June’s overall average viewing per person per day was 3 hours 4 minutes. This is a decline of 11
minutes (6%) on the same period in 2018. The decline applies to all age groups: consumption by
adults aged 16-34 is the least seasonal and is characterised by a steep and ongoing decline (down by
18% to 1 hour 31 minutes). Looking just at 16-24s, the declines are even more pronounced (down by
22% to 1 hour 10 minutes). Those aged 35-54 experienced a more moderate decline (down 7% to 2
hours 58 minutes). Older people are still watching more TV; this factor is slowing the overall decline
in TV viewing at the all-individuals level. Nevertheless, viewing by over-54s fell by 1% in the first half
of 2019 (to 5 hours 14 minutes). 23
Figure 1.10: Average daily minutes viewed per person, by month
Source: BARB. All individuals 4+.
Most non-broadcast content is now viewed on a TV set
One outcome of more people having connected TVs is that non-broadcast video content can no
longer be thought of as something largely confined to laptops, tablets and smartphones. Indeed,
despite the large amount of YouTube content viewed on smartphones, more than half of total nonbroadcast video content is now viewed on a TV set. 24
23 Source: BARB 24 Ofcom modelling (BARB, TouchPoints, Comscore)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Figure 1.11: Total video viewing, by screen and type of content: 2018
Source: Ofcom total AV modelling using BARB, TouchPoints and Comscore data. Figures in italics are year on
year change on 2017 data, arrows show where consumption has moved year on year.
The proportion of shared viewing has increased for young people
Overall, viewers are watching broadcast TV for longer periods of time in one session than they used
to (viewing session lengths in 2018 averaged just over 22 minutes, a 14.4% increase since 2010), but
they are watching it fewer times a week (on average 32 sessions per week, a 13.8% decrease since
2010), and watching fewer channels than they used to (6.4 channels on average, down by 19.5%
since 2010). Overall viewing is down slightly more in peak than in daytime.
There has also been a drop in the overall proportion of shared viewing of live TV (watching with at
least one other person) compared to solo viewing (watching alone). In 2018, 53% of live television
viewing was by people watching alone (for 47% of the time, people were viewing with at least one
other person). This compares to 2010, when 49% of viewing was solo and 51% was shared.
This is not consistent by age group; older adults skew more towards solo viewing, while young adults
(16-24-year olds) skew towards shared viewing (62% in 2018); this difference has increased since
2010 (59%). This is unsurprising given that younger adults are moving a lot of their solo viewing to
other devices and non-broadcast content.
The linear TV programmes most watched by this age group are mostly the talked-about,
‘appointment to view’ shows that are often watched with others, while viewing of ‘filler’ TV, usually
watched alone, has reduced. Children skew even more heavily towards shared viewing and we know
from our qualitative research that TV viewing at the time of broadcast tends to be limited to live
events or ‘appointment to view’ programmes that are most likely to be watched with family
25 Younger children (aged 4-9) skew the heaviest to shared viewing (79%, up from 76% in
2010), with older children (aged 10-15) slightly less so (74% in 2018, up from 68% in 2010). 26
25 Children’s Media Lives, wave 5 26 Source: BARB. Shared viewing based on ‘live’ viewing only.
Broadcast TV viewing has decreased, while viewing of non-broadcast content on a TV set
has increased
The decline in broadcast viewing was driven by a fall in live viewing (watching TV at the time of
broadcast), while time-shifted viewing of broadcast content (either recorded or watched on ondemand services such as BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub) has remained stable (see figure 1.12). Nevertheless,
watching TV live still accounts for the greatest proportion of total audio-visual viewing. When asked
why they still watch programmes or films live, the majority (62%) of viewers who do so said they had
specific programmes that they watched regularly, suggesting that the desire to watch content as it
happens (or not risk ‘spoilers’) is still strong. Recommendations are also a cause; three in ten people
(28%) say that friends or family have recommended a TV programme/film, while one in ten have
seen it mentioned on social media (10%) or discussed or reviewed somewhere else (TV, radio,
newspapers, etc) (9%). And watching live TV is not restricted to viewing on a TV set. One in ten UK
adults (9%) have used BBC iPlayer to watch channels or programmes live at the time of broadcast,
followed by 4% using ITV Hub, 3% using Amazon Prime Video, and 2% using YouTube, BT TV, or NOW
TV. 27
BARB, the official audience measurement system of broadcast television, records ‘unmatched’
viewing on the television – this is TV screen time that cannot be attributed to broadcast
programmes. Unmatched time continued to increase in 2018. But the seven-minute year-on-year
growth in this area is not enough to compensate for the fall in live viewing. The increase in
unmatched viewing on the TV set is probably a result of the growth in SVoD and YouTube viewing;
our calculations suggest that time spent gaming on the TV set is unlikely to have changed much in
the past year.28
Figure 1.12: Average daily minutes of TV screen time per person
Source: BARB. All individuals 4+. Average minutes of viewing/day.
*Unmatched viewing = TV set in use but content cannot be audio-matched or otherwise identified. Includes
gaming, viewing DVDs/box sets/archives, SVoD, time-shifted viewing beyond 28 days, apps on smart TVs and
navigation around EPG guides where there is no in-picture broadcast content.
27 Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019 28 Source: BARB
193 188 183 174 163
27 29 29 29 29
4 4 4 5 5
27 31 35 42 49
252 251 251 249 246
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Total TV screen time
Unmatched viewing*
Time-shifted: 8-28 days
Time-shifted: up to 7 days
Live viewing
Current industry standard BARB
measurement is up to 7 days
Broadcasters are encouraging viewing in multiple ways, including on demand and on
different devices
BARB’s new four-screen data, which became available in summer 2018, allows us to look at online
viewing on PCs/laptops, tablets and smartphones and shows the uplift in viewing caused by these
additional devices. Non-live viewing, and especially viewing not on a TV set, is something that is
more likely to occur with younger-skewing titles. For example, an episode of Love Island, broadcast
on ITV2 in July 2018, showed a 24% uplift from viewers watching on PCs/laptops, tablets and
smartphones, bringing its total audience to 4.9 million. Conversely, older-skewing programmes like
Countryfile do not register much change from the addition of multiple-screen viewing. An episode in
September 2018 achieved an uplift of just 0.2% from the additional three screens. 29
BARB’s four-screen measurement includes pre-broadcast data. All episodes of BBC’s Killing Eve were
made available on BBC iPlayer after the linear broadcast of the first episode of each series. For series
one, on average across episodes two to eight 30, 9.3 million people viewed each episode on a TV or
another device up to 28 days after it was first broadcast on BBC One. Forty per cent of these, 3.7
million, viewed before the linear broadcast, making up the largest part of the total audience, while
watching live accounted for just 24%. At the time of writing, Series 2 of Killing Eve is only part-way
through, but the available data show that pre-broadcast viewing is again accounting for a large
proportion of total viewing.
The premier episodes of Game of Thrones Season 8 aired at 2.00am in the UK on Sky Atlantic and
Now TV (the same time as in the US) and, across the series, an average of 112,000 individuals
switched on in the early hours of the morning to watch the episodes live. Most of the total viewing
(67%) came from those who viewed it later the same day (known as ‘viewed on same day as live’ or
VOSDAL), with an average audience of 3.6 million. The total viewing figure increased to 5.3 million
when we include those who watched online on other devices (smartphone, tablet, PC/laptop), and
on TV up to 28 days after broadcast. Watching on non-TV devices accounted for 7% of the total 5.3
million. Game of Thrones is the most popular show on Sky Atlantic and every episode of Season 8
has topped Sky Atlantic viewing figures. 31
In comparison to the above two series, BBC’s Bodyguard followed a slightly more traditional viewing
pattern with the greatest proportion of viewers (36%) watching it live on BBC One. Across the series,
the audience averaged 16 million viewers, 7% of whom viewed on PCs/laptops, tablets and
29 Source: BARB 30 The average excludes episode 7 because there was a measurement data error resulting in missing figures. 31 Source: BARB
Figure 1.13: Viewing pattern comparisons for series with different scheduling and availability
Source: BARB. All individuals 4+, reach criteria: 15+ consecutive minutes of any of the series. VOSDAL means
viewed same day as live transmission.
*Killing Eve excludes episode 7 due to a data error and excludes episode 1 in the pre-broadcast series average
figure, as this was not available pre-broadcast. All the remaining episodes were available on BBC iPlayer after
the first episode had aired on BBC One.
Despite competition from online services, broadcast TV revenues are holding up
Growth in total TV and online video industry revenue was driven by the further expansion of the
online sector, which continued its steep growth path in 2018. Total online video revenue increased
by 19.3% in 2018, driven by a 16.5% increase in online video advertising 32 and a 24.4% increase in
subscription revenues for SVoD services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Despite the pressure from online subscription services, however, total revenue generated by the
UK’s commercial broadcasters remained stable at £11.1bn in 201834. Platform operators were key to
the stability of total broadcast revenue in 2018, with revenue from pay-TV subscription services
increasing by 1.1% during 2018. This was a result of price increases from some operators which
more than offset a small decline in the number of subscribers.
Revenue attributed to other commercial broadcast services, such as TV shopping, sponsorship and
interactive services, decreased slightly (down 0.5% on 2017).
32 Source: IAB 33 Source: Ampere Analysis 34 Source: Ofcom/broadcasters 35 Source: Ofcom/broadcasters
0 0
2,042 1,485
Killing Eve (Season 1)* Game of Thrones (Season 8) Bodyguard (Season 1)
Average audience (000s)
Online 1-28 days
Timeshifted 8-28 days
Timeshifted 1-7 days
Online pre broadcast
Figure 1.14: Total commercial TV and online video industry revenue, by source
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters (broadcast data) Ampere Analysis/IAB (online data). Note: Figures expressed in
real terms and replace previous Ofcom revenue data for the TV and online video industry, owing to
restatements and improvements in methodologies. ‘Subscription revenue’ includes Ofcom’s estimates of Sky
UK, Virgin Media, BT TV and TalkTalk subscriber revenue as well as, in 2013, Top Up TV in the UK (Republic of
Ireland revenue is excluded). Subscription revenue also excludes revenue generated by broadband and
telephony. ‘Other commercial broadcast revenue’ includes TV shopping, sponsorship, interactive (including
premium-rate telephony services), programme sales. Online revenue includes OTT subscription (Netflix, Amazon
Prime Video, ITV Hub+, DisneyLife and NOW TV), online and mobile video advertising, and digital retail and
rental transactions. Online video advertising does not include ‘outstream’ video advertising delivered on nonvideo services. Totals may not equal the sum of the components due to rounding.
Pressure on TV advertising revenues continues
TV net advertising revenue (NAR) continued its downward trend in 2018, falling by 3.9% (in sharp
contrast to the 17% year-on-year growth in online video advertising). However, this was a relative
stabilisation compared to the 7.5% drop in NAR during 2017. A slowdown in the decline of NAR for
the main commercial PSB channels, probably spurred on by the success of the football World Cup,
drove this, in addition to a levelling out of non-PSB multichannel NAR in 2018.
Nonetheless, online video advertising continued to encroach on traditional TV advertising revenues,
with total value ad-funded video revenue beginning to reach the levels of commercial multichannel
NAR. And for the second year running, NAR from commercial PSB portfolio channels failed to
compensate for the decline in flagship PSB commercial advertising revenues. Further examination of
this can be found in the Broadcast TV and PSB chapter of this report.
While the economic downturn in the UK may well be a key explanation for the recent downward
trend in TV advertising revenues, recent data from WARC36 indicates that TV’s percentage of display
advertising fell from 33% to 31% in 2018. This suggests that pressure on TV advertising revenues is
36 WARC is a firm which measures advertising spend.
Figure 1.15: TV net advertising and online video advertising revenues, by source
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters/IAB. Note: Figures expressed are in real terms and replace previous data
published by Ofcom. Commercial PSB channels comprise ITV, STV, UTV, ITV Breakfast, Channel 4, Channel 5 and
S4C (and their ‘+1’ channels). Commercial PSB portfolio channels include, where relevant, CITV, ITV2, ITV3,
ITV4, ITVBe, ITV Encore, 4Seven, E4, Film4, More4, 5USA, 5*, 5Spike, 5Select, and Paramount Network (and
their ‘+1’ channels). For previous years closed channels have also been included. Sponsorship revenue not
included. Online video advertising revenue comes from IAB, and includes online and mobile video advertising
spend, but does not include ‘outstream’ video advertising delivered on non-video services such as social media
feeds. Totals may not equal the sum of the components due to rounding.
Broadcast TV and PSB
As outlined in the previous chapter, the media sector has experienced unprecedented change over
the last ten years, enabled by high speed internet, connected devices and new services that are
transforming how we engage with media content.
This chapter examines the challenges and opportunities that this transformation has created for the
UK public service broadcasters and how they are adapting to meet these challenges. Much of the
evidence behind our recent statement about the The Future of Public Service Media is laid out here.
Continuing strengths and deepening challenges
The continued rise of online services, notably YouTube and Netflix, is changing the UK’s TV viewing
habits, but broadcast TV is still watched by the large majority of people in the UK every week and it
continues to attract large numbers of viewers to individual programmes.
However, despite declines in viewing, broadcast TV on a TV set still has mass reach and on average,
89% of all individuals (53 million) watched at least 15 minutes every week in 2018. This was down
marginally from 90% in 2017 and, as with average viewing times, the steepest rates of decline were
among children and young adults. However, the younger group were not the only ones to decline.
Unlike in 2017, which was stable, reach among 45-64 year olds declined slightly year on year. 37
Although it is difficult to determine causality, the data show that SVoD subscriptions for this age
group have increased: 53% of 45-64s claimed to have at least one of the main SVoD services in Q1
2019 compared to 44% in Q1 2018.38 Total TV reach to those aged 65-74 remained stable at 96%
while it increased slightly for those aged 75 and over (98%). 39
Broadcast TV continues to provide mass advertising reach unlike any other medium and fulfils needs
that online-only providers currently do not provide to anything like the same extent (public service
content, serendipity and the communal experience). Public service broadcasting also remains very
highly valued by viewers, with three quarters of those who every watch any PSB channel (BBC One,
BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) reporting that they are satisfied with PSB broadcasting. If
linear broadcasters continue to cover live events, produce high quality content that is available on
37 Source: BARB 38 Source: BARB Establishment Survey Q1 2018, Q1 2019 39 Source: BARB
other devices and on demand, and can secure content funding, they will continue to be an integral
part of the TV landscape for decades to come.
Viewing of broadcast TV
Where our data comes from
This section uses data provided by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), a nationally
representative panel of 5,300 homes across the UK providing the official broadcast TV measurement
for the industry. This includes all viewing of broadcast TV through a television set, and via any device
attached to the TV set such as a computer, streaming device or set-top box. BARB has also started to
measure what people are watching on PCs/laptops, tablets and smartphones not connected to a TV
set, to monitor viewing of broadcaster video-on-demand (BVoD) services. However, this newer
measurement of other devices is not complete and is not yet the industry standard. Unless
otherwise stated, figures quoted are for seven-day consolidated viewing on a TV set. Consolidated
viewing includes viewing of programmes at the time they were broadcast on TV (live viewing) as well
as from recordings on digital video recorders (DVRs) and through catch-up player services (e.g. apps
on smart TVs) up to seven days after the first broadcast (time-shifted). See the methodology annex
for more information.
Although consumption of broadcast TV has declined, share of viewing to PSB channels has
remained broadly consistent
As illustrated in Figure 2.1, an increasing proportion of our total audio-visual viewing has now moved
away from live TV and towards on-demand and online content. Although we still watch a lot of
linear broadcast TV, an average of 3 hours 12 minutes per day in 2018, average daily viewing has
declined by 50 minutes since 2010 among all individuals. The decline is even more notable among
younger audiences, with 16-34s watching 78 minutes less broadcast TV a day than in 2010.
The average number of minutes per person per day spent viewing PSB channels (including their
portfolio channels) was 2 hours 16 minutes in 2018; down 7% since 2017. However, this decline is in
line with the decline in total TV, and the PSBs maintained their strong position in the broadcast TV
space. The PSBs (including their portfolio channels) held their share of broadcast viewing in 2018 at
71% (70% in 2017) and the five main PSBs alone (excluding their +1 channels) maintained a share of
just over half of all viewing (52% in 2018 compared to 51% in 2017). Younger viewers (16-34-year
olds) increased the proportion of overall viewing time they spent watching PSB channels: 43% for
the five main PSBs in 2018 compared to 40% in 2017. For PSBs and their portfolio channels, 16-34s’
share of viewing was 67% in 2018 compared to 66% in 2017.
Driven largely by the men’s football World Cup and an extra weekly episode of Coronation Street,
ITV’s main channel (including ITV +1) had a strong year in comparison to the other main PSB
channels. It was the only one which had an increase in average daily viewing minutes, albeit only
small (up by 1 minute year on year to 33 minutes per day in 2018). This helped to increase its share
of viewing slightly, by 1pp to 17%.
While the average daily minutes viewed per person to Channel 4’s main channel (including Channel
4 +1) declined slightly, its share of viewing remained stable at 6%, and its share of viewing for 16-34
year olds was also stable (8%). Despite the World Cup, the Royal Wedding, and popular drama
programmes such as Bodyguard, BBC One had a three-minute decrease in average daily minutes to
41 minutes, resulting in half a percentage point drop in share of viewing, to 21%. The declines were
driven by larger decreases in peak time (6pm-10:30pm) and declines in viewing by older audiences,
as the share of viewing for children and 16-34s increased slightly on BBC One.
Figure 2.1: Share of broadcast TV viewing (%)
Source: BARB, TAM JICTAR and Ofcom estimates, individuals (4+). Network. New BARB panels introduced in
2002 and 2010, as a result, pre- and post-panel change data must be compared with caution (see dotted lines).
Channel 4 includes S4C up to 2009. The main five PSB channels include viewing to their HD channel variants but
exclude viewing to their +1 channels.
PSB reach continues to decline as viewing fragments
The popularity of SVoD as well as other online services, especially YouTube, has resulted in an
increasingly fragmented market, as audiences have more choice than ever in what they watch.
Average weekly reach percentage 40 to all the PSB channels continued to decline in 2018. As already
detailed, ITV had a relatively good year in 2018 with viewing marginally up on the main channel.
However, all five main channels have lost viewing reach since 2010 and ITV has seen the biggest allindividuals decline, down by 14 percentage points.
40 Average weekly reach criteria: 15+ consecutive minutes 38%
4%19% 29%
All other channels
PSB portfolios
Channel 5
Channel 4
100 100 100 100 96 94 94 91 91 89 86 85 84 81 78 76 74 70 67 64 61 58 55 54 52 51 51 51 51 51 52 Main five PSB channels (%)
Figure 2.2: Average weekly reach % of main five PSB channels
Source: BARB, individuals 4+, average weekly reach % (15+ consecutive minutes) for the main 5 PSBs excluding
their +1 channels.
Audience profiles vary considerably across the five main PSB channels
Figure 2.3 shows the age and socio-economic (SEG) profile of the 20 most-watched channels
(including their plus +1 channels) in 2018; it also shows the share of each channel, depicted by the
size of the bubbles. The profile of a channel gives an indication of its target audience, and for
commercial channels this is used to sell advertising.
Broadcast TV viewing as a whole is skewed older than the population. Apart from CBeebies (the
dedicated children’s channel for 0-6 year olds from the BBC), the channel with the youngest profile
was E4 (54% of its audience was aged 35 or over) while the channels with the oldest profile was ITV3
(96% of its audience was aged 35+). Of the main five PSB channels, Channel 4, which has a remit to
serve younger audiences, had the highest proportion of under-35s (23%), followed by Channel 5
(20%), ITV (17%), BBC One (12%) and lastly BBC Two (11%). All the main five PSBs (including their
+1s) have become older and increased their ABC1 profile.
ITV and Channel 5 skew towards C2DE audiences, with 58% and 55% of viewing respectively to these
channels. BBC One, BBC Two and Channel 4 skew in the other direction, with ABC1 profiles of 54%,
57% and 52% respectively. These are higher than the proportion of ABC1 audiences for the total TV
average (46%). Of the top 20 most-watched channels, BBC Four had the biggest ABC1 profile at 60%.
Reflecting their greater reach, all the top 20 channels with the exception of Sky One and Sky Sports
Main Event are available without a pay-TV subscription.
Looking at the longer-term trend, all channel audiences except ITV2 have become older on average
since 2010, while E4, Dave and Sky One were the only channels in the top 20 that have become less
54% 56%
41% 41%
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Channel 4
Channel 5
Figure 2.3: Age and socio-economic audience profile of the 20 most-viewed channels: 2018
Source: BARB. Individuals 4+. Based on the top 20 channels ranked by share. The size of the bubbles relate to
the channel share figures among individuals 4+. Profile based on age: % 35+, SEG: % ABC1. Axes cross at the
average age/SEG profile of total TV. Channels includes HD variants where applicable and +1 variants.
PSB channels are still the preferred place to watch national events
Even with the decline in total TV viewing minutes, national events in 2018, especially in sport, still
attracted huge audiences. Seven of the FIFA men’s World Cup games were in the top ten
programmes in 2018, with the England vs. Croatia game, which aired on 11 July, pulling in the
highest average audience of 20 million individuals – a 71% share of viewing at that time. England vs.
Sweden (7th July) and England vs. Colombia (3rd July) also pulled in more than 17 million individuals.
The women’s FIFA World Cup in 2019 also attracted large audiences: 8.9 million individuals watched
England’s semi-final match against the USA.
Although football drew the largest audiences to single TV programmes in 2018, the most-viewed
event across all channels in 2018 was the Royal Wedding on 19 May, which was shown across four
channels live (BBC One, ITV, Sky News and BBC News). In total it had an average of 12 million
individuals watching it at any one time, an 85% share of viewing. Younger adults (16-34s) also had a
high combined share of 81%, meaning that four-fifths of the 16-34s watching TV at that time were
watching it. The combined total number of people who watched it at least 15 minutes of The Royal
Wedding was 24.7 million (41% of all individuals), 4 million (28%) of whom were aged 16-34.
However, overall numbers were lower than those watching the 2011 royal wedding; this achieved
34.2 million (60% all individuals) reach and 6.9 million (47%) 16-34s.
ITV/Breakfast (inc. HD & +1)
Channel 4 Channel 5
More4 ITV4
BBC News
Sky One
Sky Sports Main Event
50 60 70 80 90 100
Higher % ABC1
Higher %
Lower % ABC1
Lower %
Cbeebies (37% 35+, 55% ABC1)
UK-made drama on the PSBs can still resonate with audiences with Line of Duty the mostwatched programme in 2019 so far
Across the recent six-episode series, Line of Duty had an average audience of 10.7 million individuals
aged 4+ (industry standard 7-day consolidated viewing). This was up by 30% compared to its
previous season which aired in 2017 and had an average audience of 8.2 million. The final episode of
this year’s season had the highest individual average audience of 12.1 million and a share of 45% of
all those watching TV at that time. It was also the top episode of any title so far in 2019.
However, there would have to be many popular new programmes to stem the overall
decline in broadcast TV viewing
It is instructive to compare the total minutes spent viewing Bodyguard on BBC One in summer 2018
with the overall drop in viewed minutes of broadcast TV between 2017 and 2018. Bodyguard drew
very large audiences (with 14.3 million watching the finale of the six-episode series), but in the
context of total broadcast TV, we would have needed about 34 more series, as successful as
Bodyguard and broadcast on prominent channels, to counteract the fall in broadcast TV viewing
Similarly, Love Island had a transformative effect on ITV2 viewing in June/July 2018, accounting for
about half of all viewing to the channel. It made up 2% of overall broadcast viewing over the
duration of the broadcasts, more than Bodyguard because it had nightly broadcasts over a twomonth period. There would have needed to be about 14 ‘Love Islands’ broadcast during 2018 to
counteract the overall drop in broadcast TV viewing between 2017 and 2018. But even this would
have addressed only one year of declining viewing, demonstrating that it will be difficult to tackle
the decline in broadcast viewing solely with high-profile programmes.
ITV is more reliant than other PSB channels on its top ten programmes
The most-viewed programmes on the PSB channels contribute in varying degrees to the channels’
total viewing minutes. ITV is heavily reliant on its top ten regular programmes: Coronation Street,
Emmerdale, The Chase, ITV News, Tipping Point, Good Morning Britain, This Morning, I’m A
Celebrity!, The Jeremy Kyle Show (now discontinued) and The X Factor, and in 2018 these accounted
for 50% of total minutes viewed on the channel (but only 8% of total output). In contrast, BBC Two
does not have many regular programmes, so its top ten most-viewed programmes account for only
18% of the channel’s total viewing minutes.
Figure 2.4: Top programmes’ contribution to PSB channels: 2018
Source: BARB, all individuals aged 4+, main five PSB channels excluding their +1 channels.
Audience attitudes and sentiment
A note on survey changes and data comparisons over time
The forthcoming section of the report references data from Ofcom’s PSB tracking survey as well as
some extracts from the Cross-Platform Media Tracker. The PSB survey has evolved over time as
survey methods have changed to keep up with technological advances and research best practice,
such as the rapid rise of online surveys and also mixed-mode 41 methodologies.
Until 2014, the survey was conducted via telephone. The survey was re-tendered in 2015 and as well
as a research agency change, there was a methodological change which involved a move to a mixedmode design: 75% online and 25% face-to-face. In 2018 there was another research agency change
and a further design change: the mixed mode method was re-balanced to 50% online and 50% faceto-face to ensure a more robust representative sample. Occasional viewers (defined as those who
say they are occasional viewers but who watch PSB channels every day or most days) now rate each
of the PSB channels in addition to regular viewers.
In this report, where relevant, we have made comparisons with 2014 when looking at trends over
time. Due to the changes in survey methods stated above, we are confident that 2014 is a reliable
point of comparison even though the methodologies differ. In 2014, telephone surveys were
standard practice (and the most suitable methodology at that time for us) as a means of conducting
nationally representative surveys. Telephone surveys have since fallen out of favour and are now
significantly less common. Standard practice is now to use a combination of online research and
face-to-face as per our current methodology.
41 Mixed-mode methodology – Where more than one methodology of data collection is used, such as online
and face-to-face.
27% 29%
13% 10%
BBC One BBC Two ITV Channel 4 Channel 5
Top 21-50 programmes
Top 11-20 programmes
Top 10 programmes
Audience satisfaction remains high, with three-quarters of UK adults satisfied with PSB
Overall, 74% of all audiences who ever watch any PSB channel claim to be either very (19%) or fairly
(55%) satisfied with PSB broadcasting. Although this remains high, there are indications of a slight
decline; in 2014, 80% had claimed to be either very or fairly satisfied.
While satisfaction is consistent across all age groups, women are more satisfied than men (77%
compared to 71%), and those in ABC1 socio-economic groups are more likely to be satisfied than
those in the DE group.
While there are no differences by nation, viewers in London (80%) are the most satisfied compared
with those in all the English regions.
Viewers with cable or satellite TV are more satisfied than those with Freeview-only TV. This is likely
to be related to the greater choice and range of programmes and content that audiences can
experience on cable or satellite TV.
Providing ‘news programmes which are trustworthy’ is still the most important aspect of
Audiences tell us that they value public service broadcasting most highly for the provision of news.
Providing ‘news programmes which are trustworthy’ (73% of viewers gave it a 7-10 rating) and
‘helping me understand what is going on in the world’ (69%) continue to the most important PSB
purposes. 42 It is unsurprising that these aspects remain important to audiences, given concerns
regarding fake news and disinformation. ‘Regional news providing a wide range of good quality news
about my area’ is also considered important (65% in 2018).
Although an increasing number of people are using social media as a news source (49% in 2019), the
television remains the most common source for accessing news – TV services from PSB broadcasters
make up four of the top ten most commonly used news sources, according to Ofcom’s recent news
consumption research.
42 The statutory purposes and objectives of public service broadcasting are set out in section 264 of the
Communications Act 2003. In Ofcom’s first PSB Review, we built on these, following extensive research and
consultation, creating a framework of PSB purposes and characteristics. 43 Ofcom’s News Consumption Survey 2019
Figure 2.5: Importance of PSB purposes: 2018 (7-10 ratings)
Source: Ofcom PSB tracker 2018. Q17 – How important do you think it is, in general that all those TV channels
combined do this on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means “extremely important” and 1 is “not at all important”?
Base: All respondents (3125).
Audiences rate PSB programmes ‘helping me to understand what is going on in the world
today’ highest of the PSB purposes
In 2018, purpose 1: ‘Informing our understanding of the world’ delivered the highest ratings for the
individual statements that make up this purpose across all the four purpose statements. The
highest-rated statement was ‘Its programmes help me to understand what is going on in the world’
at 62%.
Figure 2.6: Delivery of PSB purposes: 2018 (7-10 ratings)
Source: Ofcom PSB tracker 2018. Q16 – How your rate ALL the following channels combined…on this statement
(on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is the highest score 1 the lowest)?
Base: All respondents who watch any PSB channels regularly or occasionally (2874).
News programmes are trustworthy
Helps me understand what’s going on in world
Regional news programmes provide good quality news
Interesting programmes about history/science/arts
High-quality soaps/dramas made in UK
Portrays my region/nation fairly to rest of UK
It shows high-quality comedy made in the UK
Shows different kinds of cultures within UK
It shows different parts of the UK, including England,
Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Purpose 1 – Informing our
understanding of the world
Purpose 2 – Purpose Two –
Stimulating knowledge and learning
Purpose 3 – Reflecting UK
cultural identity
Purpose 4 – Representing diversity
and alternative viewpoints
‘Portraying my region/nation fairly to the rest of the UK’ has the lowest delivery score of
all of the PSB statements
The purpose 3 statement: ‘It portrays my region/Scotland/Northern Ireland/Wales fairly to the rest
of the UK’, received the lowest delivery score of all of the PSB statements, with less than half (47%)
of audiences rating it 7-10. This was also the lowest-rated statement in 2014 (46%). There were no
significant differences between the nations in 2018 (the survey was done before the launch of BBC
Scotland in 2019).
The nations’ representation statement from purpose 4: ‘It shows different parts of the UK including
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales’ received a delivery rating of 55%. This was higher
than the ‘portrays my regional/nation fairly to the rest of UK’ statement (47%) and it also shows
signs of improvement in performance over time (from 49% in 2014).
BBC One’s regional news delivery is rated more highly in England, while STV/UTV receive
higher performance ratings in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively
Perceptions of the delivery of ‘Regional news programmes that provide good quality news’ varied
across nation by news provider.
BBC One regional news delivery was rated highest by viewers in Northern Ireland (where 75% of
viewers gave it a 7-10 rating), but UTV received a higher (7-10) rating, at 80%. Similarly, in Scotland a
large majority of audiences rated STV’s regional news delivery highly (74% gave it a 7-10 rating
compared to BBC One at 65%). In England the reverse was seen (70% rated BBC One highly
compared to 66% for ITV). In Wales perceptions of news delivery by BBC One and ITV Wales were
more equal (64% compared to 63% respectively) although these are the lowest provider ratings of all
the nations, suggesting a lower level of satisfaction with regional news delivery in Wales.
Figure 2.7: Provision of high-quality regional news within nation, by provider (7-10 rating)
Source: Ofcom PSB tracker 2018. Q16 – Extent to which the channel is rated as 7-10 out of 10 in relation to the
following statement – Its regional news programmes provide a wide range of good quality news about my area
Base for individual channels: Self-reported viewers of each in each nation (BBC One = 2069, 1411, 211, 230,
187; ITV1 = 1776, 1211, 192, 188 ,185). Base for ‘All channels combined’: All respondents who ever watch any
PSB channels in each nation (2780, 1944, 274, 283, 279).
% Rating for delivery 10/9/8/7
All channels combined
All channels combined
All channels combined
ITV Wales
All channels combined
All channels combined
Northern Ireland
Just under half of adults overall feel that there are already more advertising breaks and
more advertising minutes in an hour on the main commercial TV channels than they are
happy with
Opinions on the level and frequency of advertising breaks are consistent with previous years and are
broadly the same for all channels. However, a quarter are concerned about advertising on TV and
this concern is highest among 55-64 year olds (33%). The top two concerns are the frequency of
advertising breaks (51%) and their length (34%). The type of adverts that caused concern included
payday loan adverts (33%), gambling adverts (32%), adverts offering compensation in no-win-no-fee
deals (20%) and adverts for junk food (20%). 44
Figure 2.8: Types of advertising that cause concern
Source: Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018
QC4 – Which of these types of advertising on television do you have any concerns about?
Base: All with working TVs at home (2321), Parents (664); Non-parents (1657). Unprompted, multicode.
Significant differences between sub-group and total sample.
Satisfaction with the delivery of children’s PSB programming remains high, but parents’
perception of its importance has declined
In 2018 children’s PSB programming achieved the highest performance delivery rating of all of the
PSB statements contained in the survey. Two-thirds (67%) of parents and/or carers whose children
watch children’s PSB programming on CBeebies, CBBC and/or Channel Five rated the delivery of ‘a
wide range of high-quality, UK-made programmes for children’ as seven or above on a scale from
one to ten.
When looking at the individual channel ratings, CBeebies (76% in 2018) and CBBC (70%) are rated
more highly than Channel Five (62%). However, there are some indications that ratings for CBBC
have been in decline over time (down from 82% in 2014), while ratings for Channel 5 have improved
slightly (57% in 2014).
44 Source: Ofcom Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018
33% 32%
20% 20% 18% 15% 14% 13%
8% 4%
29% 27%
17% 20% 16% 14% 15% 11% 10%
35% 34%
20% 20% 18% 15% 13% 14%
7% 3%
Ads for payday
loans/ credit
Ads for
Ads offering
in no win no
fee deals
Ads for junk
food/ food
high in sugar/
fat/ salt
Ads for ecigarettes/
Ads for credit
Ads for alcohol Ads for
Ads for
children’s toys
Ads for public
Net: Any
All adults 16+ Parents Non Parents
Figure 2.9: Importance and delivery of children’s PSB programming (7-10 rating)
Source: Ofcom PSB tracker 2018. Q22 – How would you rate the following channels combined on provides a
wide range of high-quality and UK made programmes for children? Base for Importance and Delivery: ‘All
children’s’ PSB channels’: All respondents whose children regularly watch at least one channel (2014 = 321,
2018 = 552).
However, perceptions of the importance of children’s PSB has significantly declined (from 81% rating
as seven or above in 2014 to 69% in 2018) among households with children. This may be related to
the increased volume of children’s programming now available on other platforms and services, such
as YouTube.
Most adults were aware of the watershed
Awareness of the watershed remains high (88%), lower for young adults and highest among older
adults aged 55-64. When asked at what time TV broadcasters should be allowed to broadcast
programmes unsuitable for children, 62% selected ‘about 9pm’ as an appropriate time. Just 17%
selected ‘after 9pm’ and a similar proportion (16%) selected ‘before 9pm’. This is broadly consistent
over time. Females and parents with younger children are more likely to think that the watershed
should be earlier than 9pm.
The availability of ‘well-made, high-quality programmes’ is considered the most important
PSB characteristic
Ofcom has set out six characteristics for public service broadcasting 46, which are set out in Figure
2.10 below. Viewers rated ‘well-made, high-quality programmes’ as the most important PSB
characteristic at 74%. It is also the characteristic that has the highest rating for delivery (65%). Older
age groups, those in AB socio-economic group and those not from a minority ethnic group are more
likely to perceive that the PSBs deliver high-quality programmes. Audiences saw ‘distinctiveness’ as
the least important characteristic (55%).
45 Source: Ofcom Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018 46 The statutory purposes and objectives of public service broadcasting are set out in section 264 of the
Communications Act 2003. In Ofcom’s first PSB Review we built on these, following extensive research and
consultation, creating a framework of PSB purposes and characteristics which we continue to use in our
reports today.
2018 Importance
2014 Importance
2018 Delivery
2014 Delivery
Since 2014, ratings of PSB characteristics in terms of delivery have remained relatively stable. But in
terms of importance, they have all appear to have declined significantly. It is possible that people
are now less reliant on the PSBs (with the rapid changes in the audio-visual market) and that the
characteristics have become less important or relevant. We will explore this further in the coming
year as part of our engagement with viewers and stakeholders across the UK on the future of PSB.
Figure 2.10: Importance and delivery of PSB characteristics: 2018 (7-10 rating)
Source: Ofcom PSB tracker 2018. Q16 – How your rate ALL the following channels combined…on this statement
(on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is the highest score 1 the lowest)? Q17 – How important do you think it is, in
general that all those TV channels combined do this on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means “extremely
important” and 1 is “not at all important”? Summary % of respondents rating importance/delivery 7-10 out 10.
Base for importance: All respondents (3125). Base for delivery: All respondents who watch any PSB channels
regularly or occasionally (2874).
BBC One performs well on providing well-made, high-quality programmes but fares less
well on being distinctive
Apart from BBC portfolio channels, the highest delivery score received for all channels is for the
characteristic statement ‘It shows well-made, high-quality programmes’. BBC Two received the
highest rating for ‘showing interesting programmes about history, science or the arts’ (77%), while
BBC Three was rated highest for ‘its programmes show different kinds of cultures within the UK’
(60%). BBC Four received the highest rating for ‘showing interesting programmes about history,
science or the arts’ (76%).
‘Portraying my region/nation fairly to the rest of the UK’ had the lowest delivery score for four of the
PSB channels: BBC Two, BBC Three, Channel 4 and Channel 5. BBC One’s lowest score was for ‘the
style of programmes is different to what I’d expect to see on other channels’ (54%), while ITV’s
lowest score was for ‘It shows interesting programmes about history, sciences or the arts’ (46%).
It shows programmes that
make me stop and think
Characteristic 1 – High Quality
Characteristic 2 – Challenging
Characteristic 3 – Original
Characteristic 5 – Distinctiveness
Characteristic 4 – Innovative
Shows well-made, high-quality
Shows new programmes made
in the UK
Shows programmes with new
ideas/different approaches
The style of the programmes is
different to what I’d expect to see
on other channels
Figure 2.11: Highest and lowest delivery purpose or characteristics scores for the PSB channels (7-
10 ratings)
Source: Ofcom PSB tracker 2018. Q15 – How would you rate each channel individually on this statement, on a
scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is the highest score and 1 the lowest? Summary % of respondents rating delivery 7-10
out of 10. Base: All who define themselves as regular watchers of this channel, or occasional watchers on every
day or most days; BBC One (2069), BBC Two (1054), BBC Four (490), ITV (1776), Channel 4 (1192) and Channel
5 (851). All who define themselves as regular watchers of this channel, or occasional watchers at least once a
week; BBC Three (608).
Regulation of broadcast TV has broad support among viewers
Sixty-one per cent of UK adults feel that levels of regulation in broadcast TV are about right and 19%
had seen something offensive on TV in the past year. Those aged 55+ tend to think that there is ‘too
little’ regulation of TV programmes. When asked, 75% of adults say they think regulation exists to
protect young people.
47 Source: Ofcom Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018
Channel Highest delivery score Lowest delivery score
It shows well-made, high-quality programmes (77%) The style of programmes is different to what I’d
expect to see on other channels (54%)
It shows interesting programmes about history,
science or the arts (77%)
It portrays my region/nation fairly to the rest of UK
Its programmes show different kinds of cultures
within the UK (60%)
It portrays my region/nations fairly to the rest of UK
It shows well-made, high-quality programmes and It
shows interesting programmes about history,
science or the arts (both 76%)
It shows high-quality comedy made in the UK (45%)
It shows well-made, high-quality programmes (70%) It shows interesting programmes about history,
science or the arts (46%)
It shows well-made, high-quality programmes (69%) It portrays my region/nations fairly to the rest of UK
It shows well-made, high-quality programmes (63%) It portrays my region/nations fairly to the rest of UK
Figure 2.12: Opinion on current levels of TV programme regulation, by sub-group: 2018
Source: Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018. QD3A – Do you think the amount of regulation for TV programmes
as a whole is too much, too little or about the right amount? Base: All respondents in 2018 (2384); aged 16-34
(725); 35-54 (805); 55-64 (373); 65+ (481); ABC1 (1336); C2DE (1048); Male (1142); Female (1242); Parents
(670); Non-parents (1714). Prompted, single code. Significance testing shows any difference between any age
group and all adults, between socio-economic groups, by gender and between parents and non-parents.
In terms of offensiveness, bad language, violence, discrimination and sexual content are the top four
concerns, followed by anti-social behaviour and nakedness. Sex, violence and nudity are more likely
to be found offensive by females than males. Bad language is less likely to be highlighted as an issue
for those aged 16-34, although this age group are more than twice as likely as those aged 55+ to
have found a form of perceived discrimination to be offensive.
48 Source: Ofcom Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018
6% 10%
5% 5% 1% 6% 6% 7% 4% 6% 5%
16% 12%
17% 14% 15%
16% 16% 16%
61% 58% 64%
60% 63% 61%
63% 61%
17% 20% 17% 15% 15% 16% 18% 14%
15% 18%
2018 16-34 35-54 55-64 65+ ABC1 C2DE Male Female Parents Non-parents
Don’t know
About the right
Too little
Too much
Broadcast revenues, content output and spend
PSB revenues continued to decline in 2018
The downward trend in total PSB revenue continued during 2018, albeit less steeply than the
previous year.
Net advertising revenue (NAR) across commercial PSB channels continued to fall, with NAR for PSB
channels and portfolio PSB channels down by 4.4% in 2018.
49 While flagship PSB channels saw less of
a dramatic decline than their portfolios in 2018 (flagship advertising revenue fell by 3.5% compared
to 9.3% in 2017), a large element of this can probably be explained by the 2018 football World Cup.
This was also reflected in sponsorship income, which increased by 8.1% in 2018, but failed to offset
declining advertising revenue.
Over the last five years, advertising revenue for the main commercial PSBs has dropped by an
average annual rate (CAGR) of 2.8%. In 2018, NAR accounted for 86% of main commercial PSB
revenue, which illustrates the high impact of falling revenue from advertising on the PSBs. However,
income from sources other than advertising and sponsorship remained stable in 2018 – increasing
from £193m to £199m for the main commercial PSBs. Nevertheless, this was not enough to offset
the decline in advertising revenue, with total revenue for the main commercial PSBs falling by 1.5%
in comparison to 2017.
Total revenue from commercial PSB portfolio channels was hit harder than the main PSB channels in
2018, with an 8.2% fall during the year. While a significant proportion of this drop can be explained
by the switch of ITV’s Encore channel to an online-only format, stripping this channel out still results
in a total revenue decline of 5.7% on 2017. This was particularly driven by a fall in net advertising
revenue for many of these channels – across the PSB portfolio NAR declined by 6.2% (excluding ITV
Encore). These channels also had less income from sponsorship, which was down 14.4% year on
year. Growth in other sources across PSB portfolio channels, including retail/TV shopping revenue,
and pay-per-view services from ITV Box Office, did not compensate for the decline in advertising
revenue. However, while the relative decline in revenue for PSB portfolio channels in 2018 seems
particularly stark, especially in the light of the success of ITV2’s Love Island, over a longer-term
period PSB portfolio revenue has held up.
Revenue from licence fees allocated to TV continued to decline in real terms. According to the BBC,
as a consequence of the initial reduction in government funding for licences held by over-75s, total
licence fee income decreased from £3.83bn to £3.69bn during 2018/19. 50
49 Source: Ofcom/broadcasters. 50 Source: BBC Group Annual Report and Accounts 2018/19
Figure 2.13: PSB revenue, by source
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters. Note: Figures expressed are in real terms and replace previous data published by
Ofcom. Commercial PSB channels comprise ITV, STV, UTV, ITV Breakfast, Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C (and
their ‘+1’ channels); Commercial PSB portfolio channels include, where relevant, CITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, ITVBe,
ITV Encore, 4Seven, E4, Film4, More4, 5USA, 5*, 5Spike, 5Select, and Paramount Network (and their ‘+1’
channels). For previous years closed channels have also been included. Totals may not equal the sum of the
components due to rounding.
Hours of first-run UK-originated PSB content have remained relatively consistent over ten
The number of first-run hours broadcast by the PSB channels has decreased since 2016, the last
comparable sporting year. In 2018, the PSBs combined first-run broadcast hours were 32,188; 800
hours less than in 2016 (32,988 hours). This shift amounts to a 2.4% decrease in first-run hours
between 2016 and 2018 overall, while the decrease in first-run spend from 2016 to 2018 is higher at
Combined first-run hours broadcast by the five main PSBs and BBC portfolio channels has remained
relatively stable over the past decade, at an average of around 32,000 hours a year. First-run
originations accounted for 44% of the total hours broadcast on the channels in 2018 – approximately
the same percentage as ten years earlier in 2008 – with acquired and repeated content combined
making up the remaining 56%
The majority of PSB first-run UK-originated hours in 2018 are allocated to news and current affairs,
factual, and sports programming, which has remained consistent over the past decade. There have
been some shifts in the distribution of hours across genres of first-run UK-originated content. Drama
programming has had a large decline since 2008, with 46% fewer hours in 2018 than ten years
before; a drop from 627 hours to 338. News and current affairs have increased by 691 hours over
the same period.
Figure 2.14: PSB first-run UK-originated network hours, by channel
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters. BBC portfolio figures include BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News,
and BBC Parliament. Figures do not include S4C, BBC Alba, BBC HD, and nations’/regions’ programming.
Children’s and factual originations on commercial PSB portfolio channels and BBC iPlayer
increased in 2018
An additional 2,273 hours of first-run originated content was premiered by PSBs on commercial
portfolio channels and BBC iPlayer in 2018.
51 This was 6% down on 2017, largely due to fewer firstrun sports, entertainment and music hours outside the main linear PSB channels – these genres
made up 77% of all hours, down from 84% in 2017. This has, however, resulted in a slightly more
diverse genre mix. The amount of first-run children’s content across both ITV portfolio channels and
BBC iPlayer increased from 40 to 95 hours during 2018. In addition, a greater amount of originated
factual content was available in 2018, with programming increasing from 303 to 374 hours. This was
driven by an increase in commissioned factual hours by Channel 5.
51 There was also 7 hours’ worth of first-run originated content on All4.
Figure 2.15: Commercial PSB portfolio/BBC iPlayer first-run UK originations: 2018
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters. Note: The commercial PSB portfolio channels are CITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, ITVBe,
ITV Encore, 4Seven, E4, Film4, More4, 5USA, 5*, 5Spike, 5Select, and Paramount Network. BBC iPlayer figures
include content that was made available exclusively online and not subsequently broadcast on a BBC TV
channel. Where relevant, 2017 linear figures have been adjusted to exclude online originations subsequently
shown on linear channels. Comedy split out from entertainment from 2018.
The genre mix on non-PSB multichannels remains broad
There were 1.9 million hours of content available on non-PSB multichannels in 2018. While the bulk
of total hours were broadcast on entertainment channels (26%), the genre mix remained broadly
split across the main genres.
Non-PSB multichannels broadcast 306,512 hours of first-run content in 2018, of which 54%
comprised acquired content, with the remainder originating either in-house (39%) or via
commissions (8%). 53
Owing to the live nature of the genre, the largest amount of first-run content, as a percentage of all
hours, again came from news and sports channels in 2018.
52 ‘Main genres’ are children’s, entertainment, factual, leisure, movies, music, news and sport 53 Source: Ofcom/broadcasters
Figure 2.16: Total and first-run originated/acquired hours of output in main genres for non-PSB
channels: 2018
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters.
Note: Broadcast hours exclude Sky Box Office and ‘barker’ channels which promote TV content. First-run hours
include first-run in-house, commissioned and acquired content.
PSBs are essential for fulfilling viewers’ desire for UK-produced programmes about life in
the UK
Despite the massive investment by global OTT players programmes in original content, the vast
majority of these programmes are US-produced, designed to play out in multiple countries.
However, Netflix’ recent activities ̶ including buying Pinewood studios and hiring key personnel in
the UK – indicate that it intends to ramp up its UK productions.
Our research tells us that UK audiences want original, UK-produced programmes, specific to UK
audiences. Showing ‘new programmes made in the UK’ remains important to 78% of regular PSB
viewers, and the public service broadcasters continue to lead in this area.
Forty-four per cent of all network broadcast hours across the PSBs in 2017 were original
productions, compared to only 5% of the SVoDs’ total combined catalogue hours. Breaking this
down further, only 221 hours of SVoD original productions were made in the UK, compared to more
than 32,000 hours of UK-made first-run original productions for the PSB channels combined.
Figure 2.17: PSB First-run UK-originated network hours, PSB vs. SVoD
Source: Ampere Analysis, March 2019, content hours, primary production country is UK. Note: SVoD is Netflix
original and Amazon Prime Video original UK platforms only.
Increases in multichannel sports spend offset a fall in PSB programme spend
In terms of programme spend, 2018 was a significant year for televised sports events such as the
FIFA World Cup and the Winter Olympics. As many major sporting events run on two- to four-year
cycles, the most recent comparable year to 2018 was 2016, when the UEFA European football
tournament and the Olympic and Paralympic games were broadcast.
Across the whole broadcast sector, total programme spend increased slightly, by 0.1% in 2018. As in
previous years, the bulk of this was made up of multichannels’ spend on sports, which comprised
73% of non-PSB multichannel spend in 2018. The 7% increase since 2016 in multichannel sports
spend offset what was otherwise a contraction in spend outside sport, with multichannel
programme costs for the other seven key genres down by 0.3% since 2016.
Programme spend by PSBs has also decreased since 2016; total 2018 spend by the BBC across all its
channels has decreased by 7% compared to 2016. Meanwhile, spend by commercial PSBs for all
channels (including portfolio channels) was down across the board. The strongest decline in spend
came from Channel 4, driven by a fall in expenditure on factual content over the last two years, as
well as a general decline in portfolio channel spend. Channel 5 also spent less on its main channel in
2018 than in 2016, although its spend on its portfolio channels was up by 53% on 2016, following its
acquisition by Viacom four years ago.
Figure 2.18: Spend on network TV programmes
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters.
Note: Figures expressed in real terms. Figures do not include spend on nations’ and regions’ output. BBC
portfolio channels includes BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News, BBC Parliament, CBBC and CBeebies (but not BBC
HD). ‘Commercial PSB portfolios’ include CITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, ITVBe, ITV Encore, 4Seven, E4, Film4, More4,
5USA, 5*, 5Spike, 5Select, and Paramount Network. ‘Other multichannels’ comprises 7 key genres (Children’s,
Entertainment, Factual, Leisure, Movies, Music, News). Programme spend comprises in-house productions,
commissions from independents, acquired programmes and repeats (originations and acquisitions).
PSB network spend on first-run UK originations has declined in real terms
The combined spend by the main five PSB channels and BBC portfolio channels on first-run UKoriginated content totalled £2.586bn in 2018.
First-run UK-originated content continues to dominate the PSBs’ network spend, at 90% of total
spend, with acquired or repeated content making up the remaining 10%. The PSBs’ spend on firstrun UK-originated programming has declined, from a real-terms peak in spend in 2004 (£3.502bn) to
a low in 2017 (£2.508bn). Overall, 2018 saw the second-lowest recorded PSB network spend on
first-run UK originations, behind only 2017. Total spend, combining first-run network spend with
spend on acquired and repeated content, rose to £2.884bn for the main five PSBs and BBC portfolio
It is challenging for the PSBs to maintain the same level of expenditure with revenue falling over
time and amid changes in the television industry. Several factors can affect PSB spend, including
funding of cyclical television series or events, and an increase in third-party funding (as illustrated in
Figure 2.19). In recent years, significant technological advances have made many programmes
cheaper to produce. Additionally, an increase in both third-party funding and co-productions has
helped to subsidise the cost of programming and offset the challenges of decreasing revenue that
the PSBs face.
PSB first-run network spend has declined by 5% in the two years since 2016, the last
comparable sports year
Over the past decade, PSB network spend on first-run UK originations has remained consistently
above £2.5bn. This indicates a relatively stable trajectory for first-run spend in recent years which
continued in 2018 with £2.586bn first-run UK-originated spend. Compared to 2016, however,
collective PSB first-run UK-originated spend has declined by 5% (£143m) in real terms.
The BBC channels have contributed to this decline in varying degrees. BBC One’s first-run spend has
declined by 4% (£36m) since 2016; BBC Two’s spend has declined by a larger proportion, 10%
(£33m). The BBC portfolio channels have seen the biggest real-terms proportional decline in spend
since 2016: a decrease of 16% (£28m) in first-run UK-originated spend. The decline is in part due to
BBC Three’s move online; the 2016 figure includes BBC Three as a portfolio channel.
ITV and Channel 4 have continued to decrease their first-run UK-originated network spend, although
less so than the BBC. In real terms, ITV has declined by 4% (£32m) and Channel 4 by 5% (£23m)
since 2016. Channel 5 has steadily increased spend following its acquisition by Viacom four years
ago, up by 5% (£7m) since 2016 in real terms, the only PSB to increase first-run UK-originated spend
over this period.
Figure 2.19: PSB network spend on first-run UK originations, by channel (£m)
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters Note: figures are expressed in real terms. BBC portfolio figures include BBC Three,
BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, and BBC Parliament. Figures do not include S4C, BBC Alba, BBC HD,
nations’/regions’ programming, and third-party spend.
The majority of the decline in PSB first-run spend in 2018 was in peak-time content
In recent years, the decline in PSB first-run spend has primarily been driven by decreasing spend
during daytime. But in 2018, spend allocated to the daytime schedule held up well, despite this
having been in long-term decline since a high of £961m in 2004. Spend on daytime content in 2018
was £682m; only a slight 3% (£21m) decline since 2016. Compared to 2016, BBC One, BBC Two, and
ITV have all increased daytime spend in 2018; Channel 4, Channel 5, and the BBC portfolio channels
have decreased spend in this daypart.
Figure 2.20: PSB network spend on first-run UK originations during daytime hours, by channel (£m)
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters Note: figures are expressed in real terms. BBC portfolio figures include BBC Three,
BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, and BBC Parliament. Figures do not include S4C, BBC Alba, BBC HD,
nations’/regions’ programming, and third-party spend.
The decrease in first-run spend on peak-time content was the main cause of the decline in spend in
2018. Spend on content broadcast during peak-time hours has dropped by 6% since 2016 to
£1.615bn. This decline has occurred across BBC One, BBC Two, and the BBC portfolio channels. ITV’s
peak-time first-run spend has had the largest decline, down by £49m since 2016. Bucking this
downward trend, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have both increased peak-time spend in this period,
increasing by £7m each, in contrast to the channels’ decreasing daytime spend.
Figure 2.21: PSB network spend on first-run UK originations during peak hours, by channel (£m)
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters Note: figures are expressed in real terms. BBC portfolio figures include BBC Three,
BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, and BBC Parliament. Figures do not include S4C, BBC Alba, BBC HD,
nations’/regions’ programming, and third-party spend.
48% of first-run UK-originated PSB content is made by external producers
The independent production sector remains a vitally important component of the UK broadcast ecosystem. The proportion of spend going to internal or external producers is the same as it was two
years ago. In both 2016 and 2018, the PSB channels allocated an average of 48% of spend across all
genres of first-run UK-originated content to external commissions, and 52% to in-house
commissioned productions.
Between 2016 and 2018 there was an increase in internal commissions for news and current affairs,
soaps, entertainment, comedy, sports and children’s. In contrast, using external producers for
commissions across arts and classical music, religion and ethics, education, factual, and drama
programming has increased. Together with the shift toward third-party spend, the increase in
external commissions indicates a wider trend: the PSBs sourcing and commissioning content
The largest change in the proportion of spend to in-house or external is for religion and ethics
programming, of which 72% was made in-house in 2016, down to just 28% in 2018. Excluding
feature films, which are entirely externally commissioned, comedy was the genre most externallyproduced for the PSBs in 2016 by relative share, and education was the most externally-produced in
2018. The highest proportion of content that is internally commissioned by the PSBs is sports
content, 90% of which was made in-house in 2018. The PSBs’ role as long-standing broadcasters of
soaps was reflected in a high proportion of in-house funding at around or over 85% across both
years, and 75% of news and current affairs, a key element of the BBC’s remit, was produced inhouse. In contrast, more than three-quarters of feature films, education, and drama programming
are external productions.
Figure 2.22: PSB aggregated relative share of spend on first-run UK-originated content: internal vs.
external productions
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters. Note: figures are expressed in real terms. Figures include: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC
Three, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, BBC Parliament, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. Figures do not
include S4C, BBC Alba, BBC HD, nations’/regions’ programming, and third-party spend.
PSB spend on first-run UK-originated content for the nations and regions is down by 26%
(£98m) over ten years
The PSBs had a combined network spend on first-run UK-originated content totalling £2.586bn in
2018. This increased by a further £281m when including programme spend for the nations and
regions by the BBC, ITV, STV, and UTV.
PSB nations’ and regions’ spend on first-run UK-originated content in 2018 has been relatively steady
with a total decrease of £9m since 2016, equating to a decline of 3%. Like overall network spend,
nations’ and regions’ spend has had a similar trajectory of decline over time, with a 26% (£99m)
decline in real-terms spend compared to 2008, when spend was as high as £379m.
BBC One accounts for the majority of nations’ and regions’ spend, at £179m in 2018; a decline of 1%
since 2016. BBC Two’s spend on first-run nations’ and regions’ programming has had the largest
decline since 2016, falling by £4m to £20m in 2018; a decline of 16.6% in this period. The combined
ITV, STV, and UTV spend has declined by £3m since 2016 to £82m.
Combining the PSBs’ spend, national and regional news programming in England, Scotland, Wales
and Northern Ireland takes up the majority of the total £281m first-run spend, at just under £191m
dedicated to news programming, while current affairs content takes £28m of nations’ and regions’
spend, less than half of the remaining £62m spend on ‘other genres’ programming. Since 2016, firstrun spend across genres has declined, particularly for news programming which has dropped by
Figure 2.23: PSB spend on first-run UK originations for nations and regions, by channel (£m)
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters. Note: figures are expressed in real terms. Nations’ and regions’ figures include
first-run UK-originated spend on non-network content by ITV, STV, UTV, and the BBC across the national and
regional variants of BBC One and BBC Two. Figures do not include spend by S4C or BBC Alba.
Welsh-language channel S4C spent £61m on first-run commissioned broadcasting in 2018-19. The
Gaelic-language channel BBC Alba spent £16.7m on first-run UK-originated programming broadcast
in 2018, representing a decrease of £500k since 2016. BBC Alba had its third-highest real-terms
spend in 2018 since its launch in 2008, following the BBC’s increased investment in the channel over
the past few years. Further details on both S4C and BBC Alba can be found in the Wales and
Scotland reports respectively.
Additionally, in February 2019 the BBC launched BBC Scotland – a new channel dedicated to peaktime Scottish content – with a budget of £32m which, under the BBC’s agreement with Ofcom, must
continue, funding a quota of 90% first-run Scottish content. The impact of the new channel will be
more visible in future years.
Co-productions and the impact on genres
The large production budgets of SVoD services are forcing PSBs to find new ways of
financing content
Global companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime are presenting challenges to the PSBs, given their
large production budgets and the competition for viewers. Estimates suggest that in 2018, Netflix
and Amazon Prime spent a combined £12.7bn on content globally 54, compared to the total network
programme spend of just under £2.9bn for the PSBs.
In order to compete with the high-quality content available on global SVoD services, UK PSBs are
having to find new ways of financing content, particularly in high-end drama, to ensure that they
continue to deliver the range and quality of programmes that UK audiences expect. The reduction in
PSB network spend over time has been offset by an increase in third-party funding of programming,
including co-production agreements, deficit funding from production companies, and tax credits.
Some of the most successful recent PSB dramas have been created through collaboration between
the PSBs and SVoD players, as well as other overseas broadcasters. An example of this is the recent
drama Bodyguard which was deficit funded by ITV and broadcast on BBC One. BBC’s The Night
Manager and ITV’s Victoria are examples of co-productions in recent years. Data collected by Ofcom
indicate that contributions to the cost of PSB UK original productions from third parties has more
than doubled over the last ten years.
2018 confirmed a trend of increased third-party funding by the PSBs, contributing a record £455m. If
this is added to first-run spend by the PSBs, total spend on originations in 2018 was the highest since
2010, at £3.041bn. And as the UK marketplace becomes increasingly driven by global players such as
SVoD and the multichannels, PSBs are seeking to partner with other producers to increase
investment in programming and to produce content whose quality matches that of global players.
54 SVoD spending based on analyst estimates reported in the media
Figure 2.24: Network spend and third-party spend contributions to PSB first-run UK-originated
content (£m)
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters. Note: figures are expressed in real terms. ITV figures are not included pre-2018.
All figures include: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, BBC Parliament,
Channel 4, and Channel 5. Figures do not include S4C, BBC Alba, BBC HD, and nations’/regions’ programming.
PSB drama programming received 68% of the third-party investment in 2018
Of the £455m third-party spend in 2018, 68% went towards first-run UK-originated drama
programming, at £311m. Third-party spend on drama productions exceeded the PSB network spend
of £261m in the genre, amounting to more than half (54%) of the total spend on PSB drama content
(£571m). Although global SVoD providers Netflix and Amazon Prime have large content spend
across their worldwide drama content, PSBs spend more on first-run UK-originated drama
programming than any SVoD provider, and remain the main source of high-end drama productions
in the UK.
While drama dominates third-party spend, children’s and factual content have also had significant
investment in 2018. There was £42m third-party spend on children’s content, while factual – the
genre accounting for the most PSB network spend – received £41m third-party spend.
Figure 2.25: PSB network spend and third-party spend on first-run UK originations, by genre: 2018
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters. Note: figures are expressed in real terms. Figures include BBC One, BBC Two, BBC
Three, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, BBC Parliament, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. Figures do not
include S4C, BBC Alba, BBC HD, and nations’/regions’ programming.
Total hours of drama have fallen, but investment has increased due to third-party spend
PSB drama programming has evolved over the past ten years. Over a period which some hail as a
‘Golden Age’ of drama television, shifts have occurred across the hours and spend in this genre for
the five PSBs. Drama programming encompasses narrative fiction series such as BBC’s Bodyguard
and ITV’s Victoria, as well as drama content in the form of comedy drama programmes, TV movies,
and docudramas, but excludes soaps.
Combined hours of PSB drama programming have declined by 289 hours over ten years, from 627 in
2008 to 338 in 2018. In real terms, network first-run spend has also declined in this period, from
£524m in 2008 to £261m in 2018. However, taking a closer look at 2018, and including third-party
spend (this is the first year for which we have data on third-party spend broken down by genre),
total spend on first-run UK-originated drama programming rises by £311m.
Figure 2.26: PSB drama programming ̶first-run UK-originated hours and network spend (£m),
including third-party spend (£m): 2018
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters. Note: figures are expressed in real terms. Figures include BBC One, BBC Two, BBC
Three, BBC Four, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. Figures do not include CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, BBC
Parliament, S4C, BBC Alba, BBC HD, and nations’/regions’ programming.
The fall in direct funding for drama has helped support other genres
The proportion of first-run PSB spend allocated to each genre has shifted over time. Between 2016
and 2018, proportion of spend on drama (excluding third-party funding) has declined; other changes
are minor. The long-term trajectory of proportional spend by genre indicates that the PSBs have
been distributing funding more evenly across genres in recent years.
Figure 2.27: PSB relative share of spend on first-run UK originations, by genre
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters. Note: figures are expressed in real terms. Figures include: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC
Three, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, BBC Parliament, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. Figures do not
include S4C, BBC Alba, BBC HD, nations’/regions’ programming, and third-party spend.
Although overall average network spend per hour by PSBs on original programming is
falling, for some genres it is increasing
As detailed above, the PSB channels’ first-run UK-originated spend and hours have declined in 2018
to a level lower than the most recent comparable year, 2016. At an aggregated level, an analysis of
the average amount the PSBs spend in real terms for every hour of broadcast can help to
contextualise the change in spend and hours over time.
The overall average first-run spend per hour for PSB programming in 2018, across all genres and in
real terms, was £80k per hour of programming, compared to £83k in 2016 (excluding third-party
spend). However, the PSBs spent more on average per hour of broadcasting across several key
genres in 2018 in real terms, including drama, soaps, and entertainment. The largest increase in
average network spend per hour between 2016 and 2018 was in drama programming, which
increased by 1% from £764k per hour to £771k (and this excludes third-party spend; when this is
included, overall spend per hour on drama increases much more steeply).
55 The average spend per
hour on news and current affairs has remained constant, while spend on factual and sports
programming has declined. The largest decrease in first-run spend per hour in this period was for
sports programming, with average spend per hour declining by 5% from £176k in 2016 to £167k in
Figure 2.28: PSB average network spend per hour on first-run UK originations, by selected genres
Source: Ofcom/broadcasters. Note: figures are expressed in real terms. Figures include: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC
Three, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, BBC Parliament, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. Figures do not
include S4C, BBC Alba, BBC HD, nations’/regions’ programming, and third-party spend.
55 We are unable to quantify this as although we know that third-party spend overall increased by £109m in
2018, we do not have the breakdown in third-party spend by genre for any year before 2018 (when drama
accounted for 68% of third-party spend).
Online video
Video on demand (VoD)
Nearly half of UK households subscribe to video-on-demand services
The major subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) services have continued to grow rapidly and in Q1
2019, 47% of homes (13.3 million) subscribed to at least one of Netflix, Amazon, NOW TV or Disney
Life. There are still more households taking pay-TV services (14.3 million in Q1 2019, down from 14.8
million in Q1 201856), but overall there are more SVoD subscriptions as many households take
multiple services. Netflix remains by far the most popular SVoD service, and in Q1 2019 11.5 million
UK households (40%) had a subscription (a 26% increase since Q1 2018). With just over half the
number of Netflix households, Amazon Prime Video grew by 23% in the same period to reach 6.0
million subscribers in Q1 2019. 57 Overall, there were a total of 19.1 million SVoD subscriptions in the
UK in Q1 2019, up from 15.4 million in Q1 2018. 58
Netflix subscriptions can be obtained either direct from Netflix or via a Sky service. Of those
households who have both paid-for Sky and a Netflix subscription, a quarter (25%) say they pay for
their Netflix service as part of their monthly Sky subscription. 59
56 Pay-TV subscriptions includes the number of paid-satellite households (excluding NOW TV), Virgin TV, BT TV,
TalkTalk TV and Plusnet households. This may include some people who use the services without a paid
subscription (except satellite where this is only paid-for subscriptions). Source: BARB Establishment Survey 57 Source: BARB Establishment Survey Q1 2019 58 This may include those on a free trial. 59 Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019
Figure 3.1: The number of UK households that subscribe to SVoD
Source: BARB Establishment Survey Q1 2014-2019. Note: Any SVoD is at least one of the following services:
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NOW TV or Disney Life.
More people now take both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video than subscribe to Netflix
In Q1 2019, 5.1 million (18% of households) had at least two of either Netflix, Amazon or NOW TV. 60
More SVoD subscribers in Q1 2019 use at least Netflix and Amazon Prime Video together (51%) than
use Netflix and not Amazon Prime (38%). However, the frequency of using SVoD services differs;
most (63%) Netflix users say they use Netflix every day or most days, while only 32% say the same
about Amazon Prime Video. 61
A smaller but growing proportion of users, 14%, claim to use all three services (Netflix, Amazon
Prime Video and NOW TV), up from 10% in 2017. 62 As fragmentation of the market continues and
new SVoD services are launched (such as Disney+ and AppleTV+ later this year) subscribing to
multiple SVoD services may become more common.
Figure 3.2: Proportion of SVoD users who subscribe to multiple services: 2017-2019
60 Source: BARB Establishment Survey Q1 2019 and Q1 2018 61 GfK SVoD Tracker, Q1 2019 62 GfK SVoD Tracker, Q1 2019
1.22m 1.15m
0.24m 0.52m 0.85m
1.08m 1.46m 1.62m
0.09m 0.12m 0.09m
Q1 2014 Q1 2015 Q1 2016 Q1 2017 Q1 2018 Q1 2019
Any SVoD
Amazon Prime Video
Source: GfK SVoD Tracker, Q1 2017, Q1 2018 and Q1 2019 January-March. Notes: RS2 Services used. Base: all
respondents, 2017:2398, 2018:3324, 2019:2361.
Amazon Channels
Launched in 2017 in the UK, Amazon Channels is a SVoD extension service which allows Amazon
Prime members to purchase third-party streaming services (such as ITV Hub+, Hopster and BeFit UK)
directly through Prime Video, offering consumers a similar type of choice as pay-TV bundles. There
are more than 50 streaming services available on Amazon Channels. Price varies by the channel
subscribed to, ranging from £1.49 to £9.99 a month. The benefit for viewers is that they are able to
browse the channels through the Amazon Video service without leaving the Amazon platform and
payment is managed via their Amazon account, reducing friction for the viewer.
Sixteen per cent of Amazon Prime Video subscribers subscribe to an additional Amazon Channel,
equating to around 954,000 households. Discovery and ITV Hub+ are the most popular Amazon
channels, at 5% of all Amazon Prime subscribers (nearly 300,000 households per channel).
The benefit for the third-party channels is that their channels receive increased exposure as almost 6
million UK households subscribe to Amazon Prime Video (see figure 3.1). The financial services firm
BMO Capital Markets estimated that Amazon Channels generated $1.7bn globally in 2018, up from
an estimated $1.2bn to channel partners, assuming it shares 70% of all subscription fees on average.
BMO also estimated that Amazon is responsible for driving between 25% and 45% of OTT
subscribers to some of these streaming services and takes a cut of 15-50% of the proceeds of
channel subscription fees.
Other platforms such as Facebook and Apple are also looking to launch similar models.
Top five UK Amazon Channels
Source: GfK SVoD Tracker, Q1 2019
SVoD growth is not just being driven by increased subscriptions, but by more viewing per
In Q1 2019, an SVoD user of at least one of the main UK providers (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video
and/or NOW TV) spent on average 1 hour 21 minutes per day watching content on these services.
Viewing of SVoD content is usually highest during the summer months, peaking in August, in
63 GfK SVoD Tracker, Q1 2019 and BARB establishment survey Q1 2019 used to calculate number of household
Rank Amazon Channel
1 Discovery
2 ITV Hub+
3 Eurosport
4 Hayu
5 Filmbox
contrast to broadcast TV where consumption is lowest during summer. 64 It is possible that the
largely younger audience of SVoD content have more time available in summer than at other times
of the year, and it this is also a time when broadcasters do not usually release their headline content
(exceptions include some major sporting events and ITV’s Love Island).
Average levels of SVoD viewing have been growing each year. In Q1 2019, average SVoD
consumption among users of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and/or NOW TV was 1 hour 22 minutes,
up by 21 minutes since Q1 2017. Increased overall levels of SVoD consumption in the UK are being
driven by growth in both take-up and in average levels of viewing. Viewing levels vary significantly –
the top third of viewers spend nearly twice as much time (2 hours 8 mins) viewing than the average
SVoD viewer, with the lowest third of users spending an average of just 23 minutes per day.
Figure 3.3: Time spent viewing content on SVoD per user per day, by viewer type
Source: GfK SVoD Tracker, users of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and NOW TV only. ‘Heavy’ users are the top
third of users, by average time spent viewing, ‘medium’ the middle third, and ‘light’ the lowest third.
A household subscribing to one SVoD service spends on average an hour and a half per day viewing
it, and for those with more than one SVoD service, the total time spent goes up to about an hour and
three-quarters. There is very little difference in total SVoD viewing time between households taking
two services and those taking three or more. This suggests that access to extra services may not be a
major factor in increasing overall SVoD viewing time.
64 GfK SVoD Tracker, March 2015-March 2019. See Interactive report for monthly data 65 GfK SVoD Tracker, users of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and NOW TV only.
00:16 00:18 00:23
Q1 2017 Q1 2018 Q1 2019
Figure 3.4: Daily time spent viewing content on SVoD, by number of services used, UK
Source: Ampere Analysis Consumer, UK, age:18-65, viewing is in SVoD homes watching SVoD in past month.
Excludes SVoD homes that did not watch SVoD.
Base: 2000 respondents.
Viewers increasingly see online services as the ‘main way’ and the ‘first place to turn to’
for TV
Although broadcast television still accounts for around two-thirds of total viewing, 42% of adults
consider online video services to be their main way of watching TV and film (up by 5pp since Q1
2018). And 38% of SVoD users said they could envisage not watching broadcast TV at all, five years
from now (up 3pp year on year). Adults aged over 45 are less likely to agree with this statement; this
is in line with linear TV viewing habits, as older audiences spend more time than younger TV
audiences watching broadcast TV.66
There are several reasons for using an on-demand subscription. Watching at a convenient time
remains the main reason for using Netflix (2019: 43%, 2018: 39%), closely followed by the desire to
watch original series (41%) or to watch something different to content on main TV (40%). Although
watching ‘at a time that suits’ is also a key reason for Amazon Prime Video users (21%) this was less
important than the overriding reason for having Prime Video: access to free shipping (51%). Amazon
Prime Video is to some extent a service which supports Amazon’s core online retail business. 67
66 Ampere Analysis Consumer, Q1 2018 and Q1 2019, UK, age: 18-65, online respondents. 67 GfK SVoD Tracker, Q1 2019 and 2018, EW1: Reasons for signing up/using the service. See interactive data for more
reasons and trends
Figure 3.5: Statement: ‘I can see my household no longer watching broadcast TV within the next
five years’, by age
Source: Ampere Analysis Consumer, Q1 2019 and Q1 2018, age: 18-65 SVoD users, UK.
Broadcaster-on-demand services (BVoD) are lagging behind SVoD
Despite the growth of connected TV sets and the increased viewing of SVoD services on them,
overall viewing of broadcasters’ VoD (BVoD) services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and My5 in
2018 remained at a similar level of viewing as in 2017 (an average of 8 minutes per day for all
television viewers and 10 minutes for 16-34s). People are still much more likely to watch recorded
broadcast television (an average of 30 minutes a day) than they are to watch through on-demand
players like BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub. It could be argued that recorded viewing is also a type of BVoD,
since it offers viewers a mechanism to watch broadcast content when they want, rather than when
it is scheduled. Although BVoD is now a long way behind SVoD viewing (8 minutes vs. 26 minutes), if
recorded content is added to BVoD, total time-shifted broadcast content comes out on top (38
minutes vs. 26 minutes SVoD). But even on this basis SVoD attracts more viewing among young
adults (52 minutes SVoD vs. 32 minutes BVoD + recorded playback).
Figure 3.6: Effect of adding recorded viewing to BVoD when comparing timeshifted broadcast
content with SVoD. Average minutes per day, all devices: 2018
Source: Ofcom modelling (BARB, TouchPoints, Comscore).
35% 38% 45% 46% 49% 47% 40% 44%
24% 32%
16% 21%
27% 25%
24% 27% 25% 28%
29% 24%
30% 24%
26% 22%
39% 37% 31% 27% 26% 26% 32% 32%
46% 44%
57% 57%
2018 2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018 2019
18-65 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64
Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree
30 22
Broadcaster timeshifted SVOD Broadcaster timeshifted SVOD
BVoD Recorded viewing
All individuals 4+ Adults 16-34
SVoD content is increasingly being viewed via smart TVs and smartphones
As take-up of TVs connected to the internet has increased, so has SVoD viewing, and 44% of
programmes viewed were watched directly via a smart TV set in Q1 2019 (up from 33% in Q1 2017).
This has reduced the proportion of viewing on computers, laptops, tablets and games consoles. In
January 2019 Nintendo discontinued its Wii Shop Channel, where video streaming services were
available through the original Nintendo Wii – this may have contributed to a 3pp year-on-year
reduction in TV via games console use to access SVoD content, down to 8% of programmes viewed
in Q1 2019.68
However, smartphone use to watch SVoD content is also increasing – perhaps due to the ease with
which programmes can now be downloaded for offline viewing. In February 2019 Netflix introduced
smart downloads to iOS devices, automatically deleting a downloaded episode once the user has
finished viewing it, and automatically downloading the next episode when the device is connected to
But not everyone is convinced that on-demand is the way forward
Despite the increasing demand for on-demand viewing, half (49%) of UK adults state that nothing
would encourage them to watch more TV programmes or films online.
Other users acknowledged that there are motivations to watch more online content. Almost a
quarter (23%) said cheaper subscriptions or lower pay-per-view prices would encourage them to
watch more online content. Sixteen per cent said that more exclusive content would tempt them,
and 13% mentioned more back catalogues of TV series. Faster broadband also plays a part; 12% said
this would influence them to watch more online content. 69
Netflix has significantly increased the number of UK-produced distinct titles available on
its platform…
In March 2019, there were 736 UK-produced distinct titles available on Netflix UK, an increase of
76% since March 2016. UK content accounts for 11% of Netflix’s overall library, with 42% of the
library originating from the US. Nevertheless, the proportion of both UK and US titles has been
decreasing, despite the overall increase in the number of titles available, as titles produced in
countries such as India have increased. 70
…but US-made shows and originals make up most of the most watched programmes
However, the most-viewed shows on SVoD services in the UK are US-made. In Q1 2019 Netflix’s
licensed content Friends was the most-streamed show in the UK (as it had been the previous year),
accounting for around 2% of total streams (see Figure 3.7). Netflix spent nearly £78m to keep
WarnerMedia’s Friends on its platform in 2019, having previously paid £24m for Friends per year. 71
WarnerMedia is planning on launching its own SVoD service in 2019, so this may be the last year in
68 GfK SVoD Tracker, Q1 2017-2019, proportion of total streams by the GfK panel per quarter, split by device,
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and NOW TV use only. See interactive data 69 Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019 70 Ampere Analytics, March 2019, UK SVoD platform libraries 71 The NY Times, Netflix Will Keep ‘Friends’ Through Next Year in a $100 Million Agreement, 4 December 2018
which Netflix will be able to licence the show; however, as Friends accounts for only around 2% of
total streams (see fig x) it does not appear that Netflix is heavily dependent on the title for UK
Despite the enduring popularity of Friends at the top of the list, the top 20 most-viewed shows on
SVoD in Q1 2019 illustrate the importance of originals, with nine of these classified as Netflix
72 Four of the top 20 most-viewed titles were on Amazon Prime Video; The Grand Tour
remains Amazon’s most popular title and the only Amazon original in the top 20. Only five of the 20
titles originated in the UK – the BBC’s Peaky Blinders, for the second year running, remained in the
top 20 and BBC Two drama The Last Kingdom also made the list at number 18 (The Last Kingdom
was a BBC Two and BBC America co-production for its first season, but season two was co-produced
by BBC Two and Netflix). 73
Figure 3.7: Top 20 SVoD programmes in the UK: Q1 2019
Source: GfK programme data, Q1 2019 January – March. Notes: users of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and NOW
TV only at least once a fortnight. Rankings are based on total streams.
As original titles are increasing on Netflix, so is the proportion of time spent viewing them
The majority of SVoD viewing overall is to licensed content. However, this proportion has been
decreasing year on year. As media companies such as Disney and Warner Media look to launch their
own SVoD platforms, Netflix in particular has been shifting its focus from licensed content to its own
original content. Overall SVoD originations accounted for 39% of total minutes viewed across the
main SVoD services in Q1 2019 (up from 27% in Q1 2017).
72 Originals definition: As classified by the platform, this will include commissioned content by the platform as
well as content where the platform has sole distribution rights.
73 GfK SVoD programme data Q4 2017 and Q1 2018 74 GfK SVoD Tracker Q1 2019 and Q1 2017, weighted minutes consumed by GfK panel
Rank Programme Genre Sub Genre Commission Type Service Origin
Proportion of
Total Streams by
1 Friends Comedy Sitcom Acquisition Netflix USA 2.38%
2 The Grand Tour Entertainment Magazine Original Amazon UK 2.03%
3 You Drama Thriller Original Netflix USA 1.86%
4 The Good Place Comedy Sci-Fi/Fantasy Original Netflix USA 1.63%
5 Brooklyn Nine-Nine Comedy Sitcom Acquisition Netflix USA 1.53%
6 The Big Bang Theory Comedy Sitcom Acquisition Netflix USA 1.42%
7 Luther Drama Crime Acquisition Netflix UK 1.34%
8 Marvel’s The Punisher Drama Superhero Original Netflix USA 1.29%
9 Suits Drama Legal Acquisition Netflix/Amazon USA 1.29%
10 The Office (US) Comedy Sitcom Acquisition Amazon USA 1.18%
11 Vikings Drama Action/adventure Acquisition Amazon Canada/Ireland 1.14%
12 Breaking Bad Drama Crime Acquisition Netflix USA 1.11%
13 Peaky Blinders Drama Crime Acquisition Netflix UK 1.05%
14 Grace and Frankie Drama Comedy Original Netflix USA 1.02%
15 Sex Education Drama Comedy Original Netflix UK 0.96%
16 Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina Drama Sci-Fi Fantasy Original Netflix USA 0.94%
17 Prison Break Drama Crime Acquisition Netflix/Amazon USA 0.87%
18 The Last Kingdom Drama History Original Netflix UK 0.84%
19 Orange is the New Black Drama Comedy Original Netflix USA 0.83%
20 The Umbrella Academy Comedy Superhero Original Netflix USA 0.79%
Figure 3.8: Proportion of viewing on SVoD, by content rights holder type: January-March 2017,
2018 and 2019
Source GfK SVoD Tracker Q1 2017, 2018 ad 2019.
Note: SVoD includes Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and NOW TV consumption only by GfK panel. Based on rights
holder in the UK, original content includes Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, while PSB relates to BBC
Worldwide and Studios, ITV, Channel 4 and Viacom which owns Channel 5. Includes films and TV/web series.
Increasing market competition: Britbox, Apple TV+, Disney+ and HBO Max
Disney and WarnerMedia and Apple, and the BBC and ITV are set to launch their own SVoD services
in 2019 and 2020, increasing the number of services in the SVoD market, currently led by Netflix and
Amazon Prime Video.
Apple TV+ is set to launch in autumn 2019 and then globally shortly after. The app will also be
available on non-Apple devices. The service will provide original content ad-free; Apple currently has
30 original web series and movies in preparation. Prince Harry and Oprah are working on a mental
health docuseries for the service.
Britbox is a joint BBC and ITV venture due to be launched in Q4 2019 at £5.99 per month. ITV will
control the venture with a 90% share, with the BBC having the option to increase its holding to 25%.
The service will contain archive content as well as Britbox original content commissioned from UK
production companies, planned to be available in 2020. Britbox has been available in the US since
March 2017, and by Q4 2018 it had 493,000 US subscribers. 75
Disney+ is set to launch in the US on 12 November 2019 and then globally shortly after (a UK launch
date is yet to be announced at the time of writing). Disney plans to scale up its platform76 , a
strategy supported by the lower price point for the service compared to Netflix’s popular standard
tier, at £5.99 per month. DisneyLife will cease operation once Disney+ launches.
75 Ampere Analysis Q4 2018 76 Statement by Disney CEO Bob Iger at Disney’s 2019 Investor Day, “This is our first serious foray in this space,
and we want to reach as many people as possible with it.”
64% 60%
65% 62%
4% 4%
27% 31%
43% 42%
31% 34%
2017 2018 2019 2017 2018 2019 2017 2018 2019
SVOD Netflix Amazon Prime Video
Licensed PSB
Licensed (non-PSB)
Disney+ will exclusively stream content from its popular brands Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar, and will
offer 500 movies and access to 7,500 programme episodes. Disney+ will reportedly be available as
an add-on to the existing Hulu service which is majority owned by Disney.77
WarnerMedia is set to launch the HBO Max service in spring 2020. The service will include HBO,
Turner and WarnerMedia content, which will include exclusive streaming rights to Friends, The Fresh
Prince of Bel-Air and Pretty Liars. It is expected that the service will launch with 10,000 hours of
content. The price for the service has not yet been announced, but WarnerMedia plans an entrylevel streaming service focused on films, a second tier with original programming and more films,
and a bundle tier with content from the first two plus classic films, comedy and children’s
Despite a great deal of activity in the SVoD marketplace, a number of smaller, more niche, SVoD
platforms such as Afrostream and the Canadian SVoD service Shomi have struggled to thrive and
have shut down.
Drama accounts for the majority of the content libraries of Netflix and Amazon Prime
There are more than 32,000 hours of content available on Netflix, an increase of 185% since 2016.
The majority (59%) of this is drama, with romance the largest sub-genre within this (18% of Netflix’s
total library). Netflix has increased its content in the romance genre in the past year, including
original titles such as To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (which will have a sequel) and Always Be My
Maybe; however, despite the large volume of romance hours available, only 3% of the GfK panel’s
total consumption in Q1 2019 was romance. Comedy programming accounts for the second largest
proportion of hours on Netflix, at 16%. 78
Amazon Prime Video has 25,600 hours of content in its library, with again drama titles accounting for
the majority of total hours (57%). Although NOW TV has the smallest catalogue its content is more
evenly distributed by genre, and drama makes up 36% of the catalogue.
79 Factual programming is
the second largest genre category for both Amazon Prime and NOW TV.
Figure 3.9 below highlights the differences in programme mix between SVoD libraries and the PSBs’
broadcast output. In comparison to the PSBs, drama, comedy and films make up a far greater
proportion of content on the SVoD platforms, which also have a greater proportion of children’s
programmes. The ‘other’ category includes news and current affairs and sports content, which
account for a large portion of first-run PSB hours overall; these genres are characterised by live
broadcasting and are not so well suited to SVoD platforms.
77 Announced by Hulu’s SVP of Originals Craig Erwich at Television Critics Association, 26 July 2019 78 GfK SVoD Tracker Q1 2019, weighted minutes consumed by GfK panel 79 Ampere Analysis UK, March 2019
Figure 3.9: PSBs and selected SVoD platforms’ hours of content, by genre: 2018-19
Source: PSBs: Ofcom/broadcasters. SVoD: Ampere Analysis, content hours, UK, March 2019. PSB figures
includes first-run UK-originated hours of programming in 2018 for BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4, Channel
5, and the BBC Portfolio channels, across the listed genres; the ‘other’ category includes the genres of arts and
classical music, religion and ethics, news and current affairs, sports, feature films, education, and soaps. Note:
available feature film hours included within SVoD; however, feature film figures are not split out by specific
genre category for the PSBs and sit under the ‘other’ category in this analysis (accounting for 1% of the PSBs
‘other’ category).
Drama is the most viewed genre across all three SVoD platforms (71% of total viewing), although its
proportion of total viewing has declined by 7 percentage points since Q1 201780, as the SVoD
providers have expanded into other genres such as documentaries/factual, which has grown its
viewing share from 1% in Q1 2017 to 13% in Q1 2019. 81 Crime/mystery is the most popular subgenre viewed on Netflix and NOW TV (and the fourth most popular on Amazon). The most popular
sub-genres viewed on Amazon Prime Video are horror/thrillers and game shows/reality. 82
SVoD is experimenting with new interactive content formats
Interactive content
Since the release of Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch film, where viewers can make choices that
dictate the storyline, Netflix has been working on releasing more content with interactive elements.
Currently, Netflix has six interactive titles, four of which are children’s content, and in 2019, it
released Bear Grylls You vs Wild. Netflix has stated that over the next two years it will release more
interactive content.
A benefit of interactive storytelling is that it can keep viewers engaged for longer, as there are a
variety of ways in which the story can be told. Bandersnatch, for instance has five possible endings
with various combinations of pathways to reach each of these endings.
80 GfK SVoD Tracker Q1 2019 and Q1 2017, weighted minutes consumed by GfK panel on any Netflix, Amazon
Prime Video and NOW TV platforms. Note: Proportion of total weighted minutes includes animation, comedy,
drama, entertainment and factual/documentary (excludes UNCODED programmes, Movies, Music and
81 GfK SVoD Tracker Q1 2019 and Q1 2017, weighted minutes consumed by GfK panel 82 GfK SVoD Tracker Q1 2019, weighted minutes consumed by GfK panel
This results in Bandersnatch not having an official running time, as viewers can spend anything from
an hour and a half to two and a half hours to reach the end. The choice viewers make in the
storytelling also provides Netflix with data on viewers’ preferences in storytelling.
Interactivity also differentiates online content from linear content; it changes the experience of
video content from simple audio-visual storytelling to audience curation.
Unlike SVoD, YouTube viewers are most likely to watch on a smartphone
YouTube is a strong component of both online and video worlds; 13% of adults’ total time online is
spent on it, 83 as is at least 12% of TV and video viewing time.
84 Almost all adult internet users access
the platform (96%) and in 2019, the amount of time UK viewers spent viewing YouTube on a
smartphone (42% of total YouTube time) overtook computer devices (36%, down from 46% in 2018).
Young adults spend more than an hour on YouTube per day on smartphones, tablets and
85 and Ofcom analysis suggests that in addition to the hour a day spent using YouTube on
computer, tablet and mobile, another 12 minutes is spent by young adults watching YouTube on a
TV set.
Figure 3.10: Proportion of time spent by adults on YouTube, by device share, UK
Source: Comscore MMX Multi-Platform,, March 2016-2019, age: 18+, UK
Note: computer and mobile use only, online use via a TV set is not measured by Comscore.
YouTube is the most-visited online video app, reaching 27 million, or 73% of adult smartphone users.
More than 10 million adult smartphone internet users in the UK visit the YouTube app daily.
By comparison, Netflix is the most-accessed SVoD app, reaching 6.6 million UK adults a month (and
an average of 1.8 million adults a day). BBC iPlayer is the most accessed BVoD app, reaching 4.1
million adults in March 2019 (710,000 a day).
83 Comscore MMX Multi-platform, Age: 18+, March 2019, UK. Note computer, tablet and mobile only. 84 Source: Ofcom/BARB/TouchPoints/Comscore 85 Source: Ofcom/BARB/TouchPoints/Comscore
Figure 3.11: Unique visitors to selected online video apps, by smartphone type
Source: Comscore Mobile Metrix, smartphone and app only. Age: 18+, March 2019, UK.
Note: YouTube has been excluded.
The majority of content viewed on YouTube is digital native content, i.e. content designed
specifically for digital viewing. However, broadcasters are also re-purposing some of their output for
the platform, and within the top 100 YouTube channel entities, 19% are also broadcasters.
Figure 3.12: Top 100 YouTube ‘channels’, by organisation type
Source: Comscore VMX Multi-Platform, YouTube Partners, Age:18+, March 2019, UK
Note: organisation classification by Ofcom, Top 100 based on digital audience reach.
My 5
All 4
Amazon Prime Video
BBC IPlayer
Android phone iPhone
Most people ‘view’ music on YouTube, but the long tail accounts for the large majority of
time spent
The most-viewed YouTube ‘channels’ in the UK are largely made up of professionally-produced
content by music brands, media groups and amalgamations of individual channels, known as multichannel networks (MCNs). Collectively, these channels account for 21.5% of total time spent on
YouTube in the UK
Figure 3.13: Top 20 YouTube ‘channel’ entities in the UK
Source: Comscore VMX Multi-Platform, YouTube partners, content only, age: 18+, March 2019, UK
Note: Top 20 is based on total digital population reach.
Content originating from broadcast is among the most-viewed YouTube content
Six of the top ten most-watched YouTube videos in the UK in 2018 were segments of content that
had initially been broadcast on TV, of which five were US broadcast content. An episode of Carpool
Karaoke (a segment of CBS’ The Late Late Show with James Corden) was the video most viewed by
YouTube viewers in the UK, with another episode in seventh place. YouTube has boosted the
popularity of this show, which airs on weekdays at 12:35am in the US, as it provides global viewing
for this segment of the show. Netflix is also using YouTube to make complete episodes of Hasan
Minaj’s Patriot Act available on the Patriot Act YouTube channel, the first Netflix programme-specific
YouTube channel. Netflix is leveraging YouTube by enabling viewers to interact with the series by
commenting on the YouTube forum; Minaj then responds to these comments, as shown in YouTube
videos, and this helps to build a fan base for the main show.
Ranked by
reach of digital
YouTube group Type of content Total Minutes
Proportion of
Total YouTube
68% UMG Music 1,088 1.90%
60% BroadbandTV Various MCN – music, makeup, vlogging,
gaming etc.
1,965 3.43%
57% Warner Music Music 956 1.67%
54% SonyBMG Music 555 0.97%
51% Vevo Music 1,426 2.49%
40% Studio71 Various – music, makeup, vlogging, gaming
1,603 2.80%
34% The Orchard Music, film, TV 278 0.49%
32% Fullscreen Various – music, makeup, vlogging, gaming
983 1.72%
30% ZEFR Advertising 197 0.34%
28% Believe Broadcaster 318 0.55%
25% Little Dot Studios Broadcaster/TV production company 514 0.90%
23% ITV plc Broadcaster/TV production company 332 0.58%
22% Channel Federator Network Animation MCN 257 0.45%
22% Style Haul, Inc. Beauty lifestyle 763 1.33%
21% Collab Mobile vlogging 281 0.49%
20% Machinima Gaming 307 0.54%
18% BBC online Broadcaster/TV production company 120 0.21%
17% Rightster Various MCN 161 0.28%
17% Freemantle Broadcaster 164 0.29%
15% Movieclips Film 63 0.11%
Figure 3.14: Top ten most-watched YouTube videos in the UK: 2018
Source: YouTube.
Half of 8-15 year olds prefer to watch YouTube content than TV content on a television set
YouTube is also children’s most popular app; 44% of children aged 3-17 stated that they ‘watched
more YouTube this week’ than either TV, Netflix or Amazon. 86 The YouTube Kids app is popular with
young children, with the main YouTube platform becoming more popular as children get older. In
March 2019, 911,000 individuals accessed the YouTube Kids app, with the average visitor spending
31 minutes per day viewing it.
Ofcom’s own research found that in 2018 almost half of children aged 3-4 (45%) had ever used
YouTube, increasing to 89% of children aged 12-15. There has been an increase in the proportion
who say they prefer to watch YouTube content than watch TV content on a TV set. Half (49%) of 8-
11s and 12-15s preferred YouTube in 2018, a significant increase for both age groups compared to
the previous year (40% and 46% respectively). 88
86 Kids Insight Q1 2019, Question: What have you watched more of this week? Base: 2300 age: 3-17 87 Source: Comscore Mobile Metrix, YouTube Kids (Mobile app), Age: 18+, March 2019, UK 88Ofcom Children’s and Parents Media Use and Attitudes report:
Rank YouTube video
1 Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke
2 The Royal Wedding
3 Royal Wedding – A bad lip reading
4 Courtney Hadwin: 13-Year-Old Golden Buzzer Winning Performance – America’s Got Talent
5 Yanny v Laurel
6 We Broke Up – David Dobrik
7 Ariana Grande Carpool Karaoke
8 Dogs tested to see whether they’d defend owner during home invasion
9 Marc Spelmann gets the first Golden Buzzer of 2018 – Britain’s Got Talent
10 Musical Genre Challenge with Ariana Grande
Figure 3.15: Children’s favourite app with video streaming capabilities
Source: Kids Insights, Q1 2019.
For children, music videos are the most popular type of content watched on YouTube (45% of 3-17
year olds). However, there are difference by age group; the most popular videos viewed by younger
children (aged 3-11) are of YouTubers (i.e. video bloggers with a YouTube channel) whereas music
videos are most popular among 12-17 year olds.
Figure 3.16: What type of videos do you watch on YouTube? by age: Q1 2019
Source: Kids Insights Q1 2019, online users
Base: Children aged 3-11: 1200 12-17: 956.
Rank 3-4 5-7 8-12 13-17
1 YouTube Kids YouTube YouTube YouTube
2 YouTube YouTube Kids Netflix Snapchat
3 Netflix Netflix Instagram Instagram
4 Snapchat DisneyLife YouTube Kids Netflix
5 DisneyLife BBC iPlayer Snapchat Facebook
360 Video
Sports clips
YouTube Live
Movie Trailers
Music Videos
12-17 3-11
YouTube also provides a career opportunity for UK talent: British gamer Daniel Middleton, using his
channel DanTDM, earned $18.5m (£15m) in 2018, according to Forbes the fourth-highest earning
YouTuber, with more than 20 million subscribers.89 Some children now aspire to be YouTubers; 5.3%
of boys aged 3-12 want to be a YouTuber/vlogger when they are older, the second most popular
aspiration for boys this age (after becoming a footballer). 90
Social media video
The rise in the number of individuals using streaming services has led to social media sites attempting
to bridge the gap between social media and online video, in order to increase advertising revenue.
As social media is accessed via smartphones, the video format is usually presented vertically
– in portrait layout as opposed to the traditional widescreen TV view. This format has resulted in
the rise of vertical video advertising.
Instagram’s IGTV launched in 2018, and allows users to upload and watch long-form content that
can be viewed via the standalone IGTV app or within Instagram. Initially only vertical videos were
supported by the platform, but in May 2019 Instagram announced that it would also support
landscape videos. Broadcasters have used this to share news segments as well as TV programme
Snapchat Snap Originals, launched in October 2018, is a slate of vertical video programmes, each
about five minutes long, that are viewed on the Snapchat app. The 12-episode 3-5 minute original
Endless Summer was reportedly seen by 28 million unique users globally. 93 At the time of writing
ten additional programmes are ready to be released. Snapchat potentially sees its originals as
complementary to other streaming services, as they do not require the user to commit a large
portion of their time to a show.
Facebook Watch, launched globally in August 2018, features shows from content creators and
networks: ABC, Fox News, Vice and Buzzfeed are among those who have made content for the
service. Ad breaks are allowed if the creators meet certain requirements by Facebook, such as
attracting 30,000 viewers who stayed for more than one minute when watching the content, over
the past two months. The revenue from ad breaks is split 55% to the creators and 45% to Facebook.
Channel 4 News partnered with Facebook to produce a new weekly news show, Uncovered, which
launched in January 2019, exclusively for Facebook Watch. At time of writing Uncovered has 58,000
89 Forbes, Highest-paid YouTube stars 2018. Based on earnings from 1 June 2017 – 1 June 2018 90 Kids insights Q1 2019: 91 Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel noted in Q1 2019 earnings call that revenue rise was largely in part due to
advertising revenue from premium content.
92 TouchPoints, GB, 2018 93 Snap Inc., Snap Partner Summit | New Snap Originals, 4 April 2019, internal data 01/10/18 – 22/03/19
Awareness of online audio-visual regulation and levels of offence
A third correctly identify Ofcom as responsible for TV programme regulation
There are now many different ways of watching audio-visual content and it can be unclear to
viewers what, and how much of it, is regulated. Eight in ten adults overall believe that TV
programmes are regulated and a third correctly identify Ofcom as responsible for TV programme
regulation. The lowest awareness of regulation was among young adults aged 16-34 (73%). There
was no difference between parents and non-parents. When asked whom they thought was
responsible for the regulation of TV programmes, the top mention among adults was Ofcom (33%)
followed by the BSC94 (12%), while 26% didn’t know.
The way in which content is regulated varies. TV and radio services based in the UK are regulated to
a high standard by Ofcom under a long-standing system, which, among other things, protects
audiences from harmful content. Over time, Ofcom’s duties have been extended to provide a degree
of protection for people watching on-demand services, such as TV catch-up and online film services.
However, some content on newer online services is currently subject to little or no regulation
beyond the general law.
Forty-five per cent of adults think that all types of online video and on-demand video96 content
should be regulated, although just 19% think it should be highly regulated. This increases with age.
About three-quarters of adults (76%) and children aged 12-15 (71%) overall believe that
programmes/films that have been broadcast using broadcasters’ catch-up services are regulated.
The lowest awareness of regulation is for YouTube videos; 36% of adults and 19% of 12-15 year olds
believe that long-form videos on YouTube are regulated, and 31% of adults and 17% of 12-15 year
olds believe that short-form YouTube videos are regulated. When asked who they think is
responsible for the regulation of online and on-demand content, the top mention among adults was
Ofcom (30%) followed by the broadcaster/channel/station (24%). More than a third (37%) didn’t
know. 97
94 BSC: Broadcasting Standards Commission (replaced by Ofcom in 2003) 95 Source: Ofcom Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018 96 Online or on-demand: any viewing TV or video content on a TV that offers online/ on-demand services or
through a device connected to the internet (e.g. PC/laptop, tablet, smartphone).
TV or video content: things such as TV programmes, films, video clips, video podcasts or anything else you
have watched online or on-demand. 97 Source: Ofcom Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018
Over half of UK adults feel that level of regulation of online and on-demand content is
about right
Fifty-three per cent of adults overall feel that the level of regulation of online and on-demand
content is ‘about the right amount’. As with TV, older people (aged 55+) tend to think there is ‘too
little’ regulation of online and on-demand content. Similarly, among 12-15-year olds, about half
(49%) think that the level of regulation is about right and 20% think it is too little. 98
Fewer incidents of offence reported for online and on-demand than for TV programmes,
but more reported by 12-15 year olds
Almost one in ten adults (9%) are concerned about something they have seen online or on demand
in the past year. This is significantly higher among young adults aged 16-34 (13%) than among over64s (4%). The corresponding levels of concern among 12-15 year olds are also higher (17% compared
to 9% among adults).99
Top on the list of things that have concerned both adults and 12-15-year olds online is bad language,
mentioned by a third of adults (33%) and almost half of teenagers (46%), out of those who had seen
something offensive. When this happened, 83% took action, most of them by stopping viewing
(47%). One in ten reported the incident to a third party. Among 12-15 year olds, a similar proportion
(82%) took action, most often by telling their parents (37%), or by stopping viewing (31%).
98 Source: Ofcom Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018 99 Source: Ofcom Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018 100 Source: Ofcom Cross-platform Media Tracker 2018
Radio and audio
The BBC began its live daily radio broadcasts in 1922 and nearly a century later the medium is still
described in the same way: live broadcasts. Nine in ten adults in the UK listen to live radio at least
once a week, and live radio listened to on a radio set accounts for 67% of audio time for adults
overall. However, as with the TV market, the availability of connected devices and high-speed fixed
and mobile networks has given listeners more choice than ever in what they listen to and how they
listen to it. One of the outcomes of this is that live radio on a radio set accounted for just 28% of
audio time in 2018 for listeners aged 15-24, as more of their time is spent on music streaming
Radio broadcasters are not just competing with companies that offer music streaming services. A
wide range of organisations now create and distribute their own speech-based podcast content.
Although this currently forms a relatively small proportion of overall listening, the number of people
who listen to podcasts has increased over time, and podcasts account for a significant share of audio
for those who listen to them.
Despite these challenges, commercial radio revenues continue to be strong; the sector continues to
chip away at the BBC’s market share and the number of services on DAB has increased. In particular,
new national commercial stations are increasing their audiences by maximising existing successful
brands or by adopting more of a playlist-type approach with either genre or mood-based music
formats, or a combination of the two.
The local radio industry is also undergoing shifts in the light of changes to regulation made by Ofcom
in 2018. The new rules allow stations to reduce the minimum amount of locally-made programming
during daytime hours from seven hours a day to three, but the stations are still expected to provide
local content (e.g. news, travel and weather) throughout the day. The changes in regulation also
removed a requirement on local stations to provide a locally-made breakfast show. The two main
commercial radio groups, Global and Bauer, have announced additional shared programming across
their brands in their expanding portfolios. Breakfast is the peak time for live radio, and broadcasters
tend to use their best talent at this time in order to attract listeners. The digital-only station Virgin
Radio launched its new breakfast show in January this year, hosted by Chris Evans, previously the
host of the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show.
Work currently under way by Ofcom and the DCMS to enable smaller stations to broadcast on DAB is
likely to offer new opportunities for innovation and experimentation, including the potential for
radio stations to offer listeners more localised radio content than they can currently receive.
Overall, the radio sector is characterised by disruption as digital listening provides opportunities for
many more stations to reach national audiences, and the internet offers a huge array of on-demand
and streaming services. These new services are challenging the definition of radio with the
increasing availability and popularity of radio podcasts, catch-up programmes and curated playlists.
Figure 4.1: Key metrics: audio consumption and device take-up
1 RAJAR (Q1 of each year)
2 TouchPoints
3 Ofcom Technology Tracker
Figure 4.2: Key metrics: revenues and income
1 Ofcom/ broadcaster returns. Figures adjusted for CPI at 2018 prices
2 Ofcom calculations based on BBC data. Figures adjusted for CPI at 2018 prices
3 AA/WARC Expenditure Report Ofcom calculations. Figure is a proportion total advertising expenditure. Radio
advertising expenditure excludes digital revenues.
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Weekly reach of radio
(% of population)1 90.3% 90.3% 89.3% 89.3% 89.3% 90.2% 89.4%
Average weekly hours per
listener1 21.9 21.5 21.3 21.0 21.2 20.8 20.9
BBC share of listening (%) 1 55.7% 54.9% 54.4% 54.1% 52.8% 51.9% 51.4%
DAB digital radio take-up (adults)
(%) 1 44.3% 47.9% 49.0% 55.7% 57.9% 63.7% 66.5%
Digital radio listening share (%) 1 34.3% 36.6% 39.6% 44.1% 47.2% 50.9% 56.0%
Proportion of audio time that is
live radio (adults 15+) 2 n/a n/a 77% n/a 75% 71% TBA
Proportion of audio time that is
live radio (15-24) 2 n/a n/a 44% n/a 36% 31% TBA
Weekly podcast listeners (% of
population) 1 7.0% 7.8% 6.6% 7.3% 8.1% 10.9% 12.6%
Voice-activated speaker take-up3 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 13% 20%
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Commercial revenue (£m) 1 496 542 549 565 571 572 TBA
BBC expenditure (£m) 2 758 768 760 744 762 741 TBA
Community radio revenue (£m) 1 11.7 12.2 12.3 12.2 12.2 12.0 TBA
Radio share of advertising spend
(%) 3 3.0% 3.1% 2.9% 2.9% 2.9% 2.8% TBA
Radio and audio listening
Live radio continues to have a wide reach, with listening to UK-wide commercial stations
particularly robust
Nine in ten adults across the UK listen to at least five minutes of live radio each week. This varies
considerably by age, with 90% of over-64s listening each week compared to 80% of 15-24s (down
from 88% ten years ago). Overall, the main increase has been in audiences to the UK-wide
commercial radio stations, which have grown from reaching 31% of adults five years ago to 40% in
The growth in the average number of stations listened to each week has also increased over the past
five years. In Q1 2019 radio listeners tuned into an average of 3.6 stations each week, up from 2.9 in
2014. This increases to 4.8 stations for those who listen to national commercial radio. This means
that listeners are now relying on more stations to meet their needs, be that mood-based or music
genre-based. Previously, stations would rely on the loyalty of their listeners to remain with them
from breakfast to drive-time, but increasingly that loyalty is now spread across a number of stations.
Figure 4.3: Weekly reach (%), all adults 15+: 2014-2019
Source: RAJAR.
Although the average amount of time spent listening to radio each week has remained stable in
recent years, currently at 20 hours 54 minutes, this varies considerably by sector. Time spent
listening to UK-wide BBC services has fallen by 42 minutes over the past five years (to 14 hours 24
minutes per week in Q1 2019) compared to national commercial services which have seen time
spent with them increase by 90 minutes over the same period (currently 9 hours 12 minutes per
90.3% 89.3% 89.3% 89.3% 90.2%
64.1% 63.4% 64.0%
63.9% 66.0% 66.4% 66.0% 65.2% 65.1%
63.3% 64.3% 62.9% 60.6%
59.2% 59.8% 58.1% 59.0% 58.2%
50.0% 50.2% 49.3% 49.3% 47.1%
31.2% 32.0% 34.0% 34.6% 37.9%
17.4% 16.5% 16.4% 15.3% 15.7% 14.4%
7.3% 6.9% 7.1% 6.9% 7.6% 7.3%
All Radio
Commercial Radio
BBC Radio
BBC UK-wide
Local commercial
UK-wide commercial
BBC nations/local
Other radio
Figure 4.4: Average weekly hours per listener by sector, all adults 15+: 2014-2019
Source: RAJAR.
Listening to UK-wide stations has grown at the expense of local stations
Local radio101 has gradually been losing out to UK-wide radio (BBC and commercial): five years ago,
59% of adults listened to local radio each week compared to 70% who listened to UK-wide radio.
The latest figures (Q1 2019) show that 54% of adults across the UK now listen to local radio and 73%
to national stations. Figure 4.5 compares the audience profiles for local and UK-wide stations across
the BBC and commercial radio: local commercial radio stations are spread across the age spectrum
and BBC local services largely have older listeners; BBC UK-wide services are at either end of the age
spectrum and all appeal to a more ABC1 audience.
Figure 4.5: Weekly reach profiles: UK radio stations
Source: RAJAR Q4 2018, 12-month weight.
101 This includes the BBC stations for the nations: BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Wales /
21.5 21.3 21.0 21.2 20.8
16.1 15.9 15.6 15.8 15.2 15.3 15.0 15.1 14.7 15.0 14.2 14.4
12.8 12.8 12.7 13.2 12.8 12.9
11.3 10.9 10.7 11.0 10.4 10.3
7.7 8.4 8.1
8.8 8.7 9.2 9.2 8.7 8.6
8.3 8.6
7.6 7.2 7.1 7.8 7.3
All Radio
BBC Radio
BBC UK-wide
Commercial Radio
Local commercial
UK-wide commercial
BBC nations/local
Other adio
Younger ABC1
Younger C2DE
Older ABC1
Older C2DE
Local commercial
Global national
Bauer national
BBC nations’/ local
BBC network radio
Wireless Group
Other national commercial
BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 4 Extra
BBC Radio 4
BBC World Service
BBC Radio 5 live &
sports extra
BBC Radio 2
BBC 6 Music
BBC Radio 1
1Xtra from the BBC BBC Asian Network
Classic FM BBC Radio London
BBC Radio York
BBC Radio
Radio X
Using well-known talent at breakfast is a key strategy to attract listeners
Breakfast is the peak time for live radio, and broadcasters tend to use their biggest talent at this time
in order to attract listeners. The digital-only station Virgin Radio, owned by Wireless Group,
launched its new breakfast show in January this year, hosted by Chris Evans, previously the host of
the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show. In Q4 2018, the Virgin breakfast show reached 160,000 adults. The
first figures posted by Chris Evans in Q1 2019 revealed that he had boosted the audience to 993,500
listeners, increasing the overall station reach from 480,000 to 1.3 million listeners each week.
However, a third of the Virgin breakfast show audience did not tune in to any other output on the
station. The uplift for Virgin Radio in Q1 2019 accounted for 12% of the additional overall digital
radio listening hours, although this was mainly on DAB.
Zoe Ball replaced Chris Evans on Radio 2, becoming the first female presenter of the BBC Radio 2
breakfast show (her second accolade of this kind, as she was also the first female presenter of the
BBC Radio 1 breakfast show back in 1997). Her first RAJAR figures in Q1 2019 showed that she had
maintained the breakfast audience at 9 million listeners and has helped maintain the station’s
audience across the day; only 6% of Zoe’s audience did not listen to any other Radio 2 output.
After a dip in reach in 2018, Radio 4’s Today programme has rallied, with its weekday programme
achieving its fifth-ever highest audience in Q1 2019 (7.2 million). Including the Saturday slot, Today
reaches 7.3 million adults each week.
Following the changes in commercial radio regulation in 2018, which removed a requirement on
local stations to produce their own breakfast shows, the Capital network launched a UK-wide
breakfast show on 8 April 2019, and the Heart network followed suit on 3 June. Both brands are
owned by Global.
Figure 4.6: Listening across the day, by sector (Monday to Friday)
Source: RAJAR Q1 2019.
All Radio BBC UK-wide BBC nations’/local National commercial Local commercial Other
Digital listening grew in the 12 months to Q1 2019
Digital share of listening overall across the UK continues to grow and now stands at 56.4%, up from
52.6% in Q4 2018. Although DAB is by far the main digital platform (40.4% share of all listening hours
overall), the largest growth is in listening online, which grew by 20% between Q4 2018 and Q1 2019.
However, online listening is still a low proportion of overall listening, as seen in Figure 4.7.
Figure 4.7: Listening hours (thousands), by platform
Source: RAJAR Q1 2019.
All platforms
Taking into account all time spent listening to radio each week, 51.4% was to BBC stations in Q1
2019. But this varies by platform; only 41.7% of online listening is attributed to BBC stations. Bauer’s
share of listening is higher when looking at online listening; it has the highest proportion apart from
the BBC. ‘Other’ radio accounts for a higher proportion of online listening, as this includes listening
to overseas services or online-only stations that are not covered by RAJAR. This figure, however, has
decreased over the past five years (from 15.7% to 10.6%) while the online share of listening to
Global and Bauer stations has increased, suggesting that the increased choice of stations offered by
these groups is attracting listeners away from ‘other’ stations.
Figure 4.8: UK radio listening: market share by radio group, by platform
All radio
Online listening DAB listening
Source: RAJAR Q1 2019.
BBC, 51.4%
Global, 20.5%
Bauer, 14.7%
Group, 3.3%
UK, 2.4%
UKRD, 0.6% Nation
Celador, 0.4% Lincs FM Group,
BBC, 41.7%
Bauer, 20.8%
Global, 19.1%
Group, 5.2%
UK, 1.1%
UKRD, 0.5%
0.4% Celador, 0.3%
Lincs FM Group,
Other, 10.6%
BBC, 51.4%
Global, 19.9%
Bauer, 18.4%
Wireless Group,
UK, 1.6%
UKRD, 0.2% Nation
Celador, 0.1% Lincs FM Group,
Other, 3.6%
Although live radio is strong, there are challenges for the radio industry
The measurement of radio listening used to be relatively straightforward as the only option was ‘live
radio’, normally accessed through a dedicated radio set. Now, however, we can listen to
full programmes on catch-up, listen to repurposed programmes through podcasts and listen on a
range of hybrid devices such as smart speakers. In a time when there are so many other competing
audio providers, such as Spotify and YouTube, measuring the impact of radio can be
challenging. The IPA’s TouchPoints survey asks consumers to report a range of different audio
activities, which allows us to estimate the ‘share of ear’ that is accounted for by radio. For all adults,
almost three-quarters of weekly listening is to radio, either live, on-demand or radio podcasts. But
among young people this drops to less than a third, with 41% of audio time spent with music
streaming services.
Figure 4.9: Weekly share of audio listening
Source: TouchPoints 2018.
More than two-thirds listen to analogue radio in the car
Live radio is the most common type of in-car audio consumption. Sixty-eight per cent of radio
listeners who use a car said they listened to live radio on an in-car FM/AM radio, while 46% said they
listened to live radio on an in-car DAB radio set. As a significant majority of new cars sold (93% in Q4
2018)102 have DAB radios installed as standard, as motorists replace their cars with newer models,
this proportion is likely to increase.
In contrast, fewer people reported using on-demand audio services in the car, with 8% saying they
listened to music via a streaming service and 4% listened to podcasts.
102 Source: The CAP/SMMT data for Q4 2018 shows that 93.1% of new cars came with DAB as standard.
Adults 15+
Age 15-24
Live Radio On A Radio Set Live Radio On A Laptop, Tablet, Mobile, etc. (Not A Radio Set, Car Radio Or TV Set)
On Demand/Listen Again Radio Programmes Radio Podcasts/Downloads
Streamed Online Music e.g. Spotify, Your Own Personal Digital Music Or Audio Collection – Stored On A Device
Music Video Channels/Sites For Background Listening e.g. Youtube, MTV Your Own Personal Collection On CD, Vinyl Record, etc.
Audiobooks Other Podcasts/Downloads
Radio listening = 32%
Radio listening = 73%
Hybrid radio103, being rolled out by some car manufacturers including Audi, combines FM, DAB and
online reception of live radio, automatically switching from broadcast to internet streamed radio
when outside the station’s broadcast coverage area, or in areas with poor reception. So that this can
work seamlessly and offer listeners the best experience, hybrid radios require metadata (including
EPG data) and auxiliary content such as station artwork to show on the screens. In response to this
need, broadcasters in ten countries are working with Radioplayer to provide a single source for
metadata for car manufacturers, which in return agree to several requirements in relation to the
visibility and ease of use of broadcast radio and broadcaster brands.
Figure 4.10: Listening to audio content in the car
Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019
QP22. Which of these ways of listening do you ever use in a car?
Base: All adults aged 16+ who listen to radio and who use a car (2019, 2744).
Looking at the current take-up of selected connected car technologies, one of the most common
features is the ability to stream music and audio from a mobile phone to the car’s audio system,
often via Bluetooth. While these features can be built in to the car, it is also possible to add them
later. Amazon Echo Auto, announced in 2018, is designed to work with the driver’s smartphone to
offer voice-controlled access to Alexa services in the car, in cars that do not have built-in voice
control. Using voice to control devices and select stations means that drivers do not need to take
their eyes off the road or their hands from the car’s controls.
While it is fairly common (at 27%) to have some form of automated driving feature,
104 only 6% of
households say they use a car with a built-in wi-fi hotspot, and only 4% use a car that allows them to
use a smartphone to monitor their car.
103 See 104 For example, features such as adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance, assisted parking or lane centring
Figure 4.11: Connected car technology
Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019
QB9. Does any car used by someone in your household have any of these features?
Base: All in a household where someone uses a car (3142).
The rapid take-up of smart speakers is both an opportunity and a threat for radio
One in five (20%) UK households now own a smart speaker, such as an Amazon Echo, Google Home,
or Apple HomePod, compared to 13% in 2018. 105 People aged under 55 were more likely to say they
owned one; about a quarter of 16-34s (27%) and 35-54s (25%), compared to just 11% of over-54s.
Take-up of Amazon’s smart speakers is significantly higher than of devices from other companies.
Among internet users who use smart speakers, 78% said they used an Amazon device such as an
Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show, 18% used a Google Home device, 7% an Apple device, while 2% said
they used another type of smart speaker. 106
Among those using smart speakers, their most claimed activity on this device was to listen to music
via a streaming service (69%). This was most popular among the youngest age group (79% of 16-
34s), dropping to 51% of over-54s. Listening to a live radio station followed (56%). 107 However, in
contrast to streaming music, this activity was less likely among the younger age group (44%) and
more likely among 35-54s (61%) and over-54s (71%). Smart speakers were used to listen to podcasts
by 22% of smart speaker owners and used by 10% to play interactive audio games.
Although the most common uses of the smart speaker relate to audio listening activities, almost half
of users claimed to ask their speaker general questions or search for information online (47%) or to
access weather reports (46%). Over a third used their speaker as a personal alarm, schedule
reminder or shopping list (36%), or to get news reports (34%). Around one in seven used them to
control household devices such as heating or lighting (15%), or the TV or set-top box (14%), or to get
105 Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019 106 Source: Ofcom Search Research, March 2019. Q15: “Which type of smart speaker do you use?” Base: all
respondents who use a smart speaker (n=478)
107 Among all radio listeners, the number who had ever listened the radio on a smart speaker increased from
10% of adults in 2018 to 19% in 2019. This number may include non-owners of smart speakers. (Source: Ofcom
Technology Tracker)
the speaker to make calls, send texts or emails by pairing to a mobile phone (13%). Eight per cent
said they used their smart speaker to purchase a product from a retailer.
Figure 4.12: Use of smart speakers
Source: Source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2019
QB7. Thinking of your household’s smart speaker – such as an Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple
HomePod… Which of these do you use your smart speaker for? QB8: And which of these have you used your
smart speaker for in the last week?
Base: All adults aged 16+ who use a smart speaker (617).
Smart speakers offer broadcasters the opportunity to expand their digital audiences and reach new
listeners outside their broadcast coverage areas. In April 2019, Bauer said that 40% of its internet
listening hours were from smart speakers.
108 Despite this, challenges remain for broadcasters
around smart speakers. To listen to a particular station, users may have to request that station by
name, and so stations’ branding becomes more important. Even if a consumer remembers the
specific name of the station, confusion may arise if stations have the same name, resulting in the
incorrect station being selected.
For those broadcasters seeking to develop apps/ skills for smart
speakers rather than rely on third-party players (potentially offering broadcasters greater access to
analytics), having a strong brand may help to increase visibility among the thousands of skills
available (almost 30,000 in the case of Amazon Alexa).
Other challenges include the bundling of music streaming services with smart speakers and the
enabling of music and other audio content potentially associated with the device manufacturer by
default. Building on its £3.99 subscription for Alexa devices, in April 2019 Amazon launched an
108 109 110 The number of Amazon Alexa skills in the UK grew by 233% to 29,910. Source
To call other people’s smart speakers
Purchase a product from a retailer
Play an interactive audio game
To make calls, send texts or emails by pairing with your…
To control a household device, such as the TV or set top box
To control smart home devices such as heating or lighting
Listen to a podcast
Get travel info or updates
Get news reports
As an alarm, personal schedule reminder or to make a…
Get weather reports
Searching for info online or asking general questions
Listen to live radio station
Listen to music via a streaming service
Used in the past week Use less often
advertising-funded version of its music streaming service for Alexa users, enabling owners of
Amazon’s smart speakers (among others) to have free access to Amazon’s music service.
The UK radio industry
Digital radio services are available via a range of different platforms
Digital terrestrial radio services in the UK are broadcast on the dedicated DAB digital terrestrial radio
network as well as on digital terrestrial television (DTT); digital radio services are also broadcast via
cable and satellite networks. Radio services broadcast on DAB or DTT are required to be based in the
UK and hold the appropriate licence from Ofcom, while those on cable and satellite TV networks
must either hold the appropriate licence from Ofcom or be already authorised in another EU
member state. Digital radio services are also distributed via the internet, accessed via a webpage,
app or device such as a smart speaker. While many radio stations delivered over the internet are
simulcasts of licenced broadcast services, there are also many radio stations that are online only.
Radio services distributed via the internet do not require a licence to operate and are not regulated
by Ofcom.
The total number of DAB services carried on multiplexes increased in 2018
Between March 2018 and March 2019, the overall number of analogue stations fell by one.
Northsound 2 AM service ceased in April 2018, and NECR, an independently owned FM station
serving Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, closed in August 2018. However, Scotland also saw the launch of
a new FM service, Nation Radio Scotland, covering the Glasgow area.
Figure 4.13: Analogue radio services: March 2019
Source: Ofcom, BBC. NB: BBC UK-wide network AM total excludes Radio 4 LW and Radio 4 MW services. Any
changes since March 2018 shown in parentheses.
The number of local services carried on DAB has continued to grow
The overall total number of services available on the three UK-wide DAB multiplexes stayed the
same between March 2018 and March 2019. Bauer launched Scala Radio, the UK’s second national
commercial classic music station on the Sound Digital multiplex, on 4 March 2019, replacing Heat
Radio on the multiplex, although the station continues to be available via the internet and Freeview.
In June 2019 Global Radio launched Heart Dance, a UK-wide dance music station which is broadcast
on the Digital One multiplex.
AM FM AM/FM total
Local commercial 50 (-1) 235 285
UK-wide commercial 2 1 3
BBC UK-wide networks 1 4 5
BBC local and nations 26 46 46
Community radio stations 11 (+1) 270 (+25) 281 (+26)
The total number of services carried across local DAB multiplexes increased by 39 to reach 447 by
the end of March 2019, although the exact number of services varies over time as services come on
and off multiplexes. One station launch on local DAB was Bauer’s Country Hits Radio, using carriage
on multiple local DAB multiplexes to provide the service to listeners in various parts of the UK.
The launch of small-scale DAB multiplexes, planned for 2020 onwards, will allow additional services
to be broadcast on DAB, including community radio stations and commercial stations seeking to
offer a more localised service than is possible on the existing local DAB multiplexes.
Figure 4.14: DAB radio services: March 2019
Source: Ofcom, BBC. Note: the number of services on commercial multiplexes includes all services carried on
each multiplex, meaning that a service may be counted more than once. Any changes since March 2018 shown
in parentheses.
Consolidation and networking form key parts of commercial strategy for the largest
Over the last few months there have been a raft of changes in the commercial radio sector as
industry consolidation continues, driven by the acquisition activities of the major groups: Global,
Bauer and, to a lesser extent, Wireless. In 2019, Bauer announced the acquisition of three radio
groups: Lincs FM Group, Celador’s radio business and UKRD, along with the Wireless Group’s local
stations in England and Wales. At the time of writing, these four transactions are subject to a merger
enquiry being undertaken by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).111
Other recent mergers and acquisitions activity in the sector includes Communicorp’s purchase of
Connect FM and Heart Watford from Adventure Radio in February 2019112, and the extension of the
Heart service across more of Hertfordshire, following its purchase of BOB FM in April 2019.
The local radio industry is also undergoing shifts, following changes to regulation made by Ofcom in
2018. The new rules allow stations to reduce the minimum amount of locally-made programming
during daytime hours from seven hours each weekday to three. The changes in regulation also
removed a requirement on local stations to provide a locally-made breakfast show, and therefore
allowed for greater networking.
111 On 24 July the CMA said that it is, or may be, the case that this merger has resulted, or may be expected to
result, in a substantial lessening of competition. As a result, the merger would be referred for a phase 2
investigation unless the parties offer acceptable undertakings to address these competition concerns
112 Before the acquisition, these stations were owned by Adventure Radio but managed by Communicorp
BBC UK-wide UK commercial 92%
coverage (Digital
UK Commercial 83%
coverage (Sound
Local commercial
Number of
multiplexes 1 1 1 55
Number of services 11 14 20 447* (+39)
Global Radio has already taken advantage of these changes by launching shared breakfast
programming across its key brands such as Capital and Heart. The changes should allow Global to
build a national profile for its DJs and more easily attract high-profile guests. Global says that the
changes will allow it to compete more effectively with BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2.
Bauer has extended its networking, following the launch of the Greatest Hits network in 2019 to
replace its City 2 network, including the rebranding of City 2 stations in England. From July 2019
some of the stations in Bauer’s Hits network (launched in 2018) will lose all locally-made weekend
programming, although Liverpool, and stations in Scotland, will continue to have their own locallymade weekend programming. Also, from July 2019, Bauer will replace the individual breakfast and
drivetime programming on its four Free Radio stations in the Midlands with two breakfast
programmes and a single drivetime programme. Following its purchase of BOB FM in April,
Communicorp has merged the service with Heart Watford, extending its coverage area.
While there has also been consolidation within the sector, since summer 2018 the largest groups
have also been active in transactions in other sectors. Bauer exited the TV market following the sale
of its 50% stake in Box TV to Channel 4 in January 2019, in order to concentrate on radio and
magazines, and Global purchased out-of-home advertising firms Primesight and Outdoor Plus in
September 2018, and Exterion Media the following month, diversifying the group into the out-ofhome advertising sector.
Commercial radio revenues were stable in real terms between 2017 and 2018
Reported total commercial radio revenues were flat year on year, but reached a nominal high of
£572m as real-terms increases of 2% in national advertising and 4% in sponsorship offset a decline of
10% in reported local advertising revenues.
Figure 4.15: Commercial radio revenues (£m)
Source: Ofcom / broadcaster returns. 2017 data includes restatements. Figures rounded to nearest £milllion.
Adjusted for CPI at 2018 prices.
276 283 289 294 301
144 140 142 143 129
100 101 107 103 107
22 26 27 30 34
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
National commercial Local commercial Commercial sponsorship Other
542 549 565 571 572
According to data from Warc/Nielsen, 113 the three largest segments were entertainment and leisure,
finance (each accounting for 13% of total expenditure on radio advertising), and motors, which
accounted for 12% of expenditure. Expenditure on these first two categories grew by 12% and 18%
in real terms year on year respectively but fell by 16% in real terms for the motors category.
BBC expenditure
Estimated BBC expenditure on radio (including apportioned overheads) declined by 3% in real terms
between 2017 and 2018 to £741m. But within this overall figure, estimated expenditure on radio
content rose by 2% in real terms.
Community radio sector
Advertising and public funding (the BBC licence fee) remain the main key sources of funding for radio
in the UK, but the community radio sector funding mixture is broader than this. The sector’s total
revenues of £12.0m declined by 1% in real terms but average income per station fell by 5% in real
terms to £49k, reflecting an increase in the number of stations reporting (246 vs. 236).
Community radio sector costs were £11.5m in 2018, representing a 6% year-on-year decrease in real
terms and equivalent to an average of £47k per station, a 9% decline in real terms.
Sources of funding for the radio and audio sector
While the community radio sector continues to receive funding from a range of public bodies, an
additional source of public funding for radio and audio content is the Government’s £3m Audio
Content Fund, designed to support genres of audio content such as documentaries and drama that
may be difficult to fund on a fully commercial basis, in particular due to their high cost compared to
music output. All content funded by the fund must be broadcast on a UK community or commercial
radio station licenced by Ofcom. The first funding round closed in late April 2019, with bids involving
28 commercial radio stations and ten community radio stations or partnerships, all seeking support
for content for children, comedy, documentaries, drama and sport. In June it was announced that
nine successful bids will share £234,000 being distributed in the first funding round. Content funded
via this round will be broadcast by 17 radio stations, including local and national commercial services
(such as XFM and TalkSport) as well as community radio.
Developments in digital radio
DAB digital radio coverage continues to increase
DAB radio services are broadcast as ‘multiplexes’. This means that sound signals from a number of
individual radio stations are combined together and transmitted as digital data. In the UK, there are
DAB multiplexes with UK-wide coverage and 55 local commercial multiplexes. In addition, smallscale DAB multiplexes are on trial in ten local areas. The two UK-wide commercial multiplexes
(Digital One, launched in 1999 and Sound Digital, launched in 2016) carry services for the whole of
the UK while the local commercial multiplexes carry both commercial services and the BBC’s local or
nations’ service for the region. A multiplex’s coverage depends on a range of factors including the
number and location of transmitter sites. For commercial multiplex roll-outs, the incremental cost
113 Source: Nielsen AA/Warc Expenditure Report, expenditure by Nielsen product category. NB: definition of
expenditure not directly comparable to radio revenue data published by Ofcom.
and revenue benefit of adding sites for extra coverage is a key consideration, so commercial
multiplexes operate from fewer sites, and have lower coverage than the national BBC multiplex.
Following the build-out of the Sound Digital national commercial DAB multiplex across 19 additional
transmitters in England, Wales and Scotland in 2018, it can now be received by 83% of households
and offers 73% coverage on major roads around the UK, compared to 77% and 67% respectively
before the build-out programme. Coverage for the other two UK-wide multiplexes and the local DAB
multiplexes remained the same as a year before.
Promoting innovation in radio: licensing small-scale DAB
Small-scale DAB is a new way of transmitting digital radio that uses advances in software and lowcost computer technology to provide a flexible and inexpensive approach to terrestrial broadcasting.
Trials using this technology were set up in 2015 in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow,
Portsmouth, Cambridge, Brighton, Aldershot, Bristol and Norwich.
As demonstrated in the trials, the technology opens the way for an additional tier of DAB
multiplexes (beyond the three national and the local multiplexes) and offers the potential for new,
more local digital radio services.
Ofcom and DCMS are working to establish a licensing framework for small-scale multiplexes. The
Broadcasting (Radio Multiplex Services) Act 2017 made provision for the licensing and regulation of
small-scale radio multiplex services, and in 2018 DCMS consulted on the approach to the licensing of
these services. In parallel with this, Ofcom sought expressions of interest from parties wanting to
operate small-scale DAB multiplexes and/or who were interested in providing services on them.
Ofcom received over 700 expressions of interest relating to running a small-scale multiplex and/or a
programme service.
In June 2019 the DCMS laid secondary legislation before Parliament, which if approved will allow
Ofcom to issue a new type of licence – Community Digital Sound Programme (‘C-DSP’) licences,
which are specifically designed for community radio services broadcasting on DAB. In July 2019
Ofcom published a consultation on how it would approach the licensing of small-scale DAB services
and multiplexes in the event that it acquires these new powers. We propose that:
• C-DSP licences will contain conditions similar to those for analogue community radio licences,
which require holders to demonstrate social gain and be subject to limits on the proportion of
income they generate from advertising.
• Small-scale multiplexes will be required to reserve capacity to allow for a minimum of three CDSP programme services. Capacity beyond this would be available for services holding a DSP
We intend to advertise the first batch of licences in early 2020. For further details please see
Ofcom is continuing to licence local DAB multiplexes in areas where there have been expressions of
interest. In summer 2019 Ofcom proposes to invite applications to operate local DAB multiplex
services in Morecambe Bay, North and West Cumbria and southwest Scotland, areas that do not
currently receive local DAB services.
In April 2019 Ofcom, working with the Channel Islands’ authorities, published an invitation for
applications to be the operator of the first commercial DAB multiplex for the Channel Islands, with
the intention that the licence covering both Jersey and Guernsey would be awarded in autumn 2019.
This will enable BBC Radio Guernsey and BBC Radio Jersey to be available on DAB for the first time,
though the Channel Islands currently receive BBC’s UK-wide services on DAB.
DAB+ is an evolution of the DAB standard which offers the potential for more stations and/or better
sound quality than DAB.114 DAB radio sets with the digital radio ‘tick mark’ can receive DAB+ services
as well as existing DAB services.
While most UK services use DAB, the use of DAB+ is growing in the UK, with several services on the
Sound Digital multiplex at March 2019 using this development, as well as some services on the trial
small-scale DAB multiplexes. In summer 2019, Global Radio migrated Heart Extra and Smooth Extra
from DAB to DAB+ transmission on the Digital One multiplex, also adding Gold in DAB to the
multiplex. Following changes to Ofcom’s Digital Radio Technical Codes, written permission from
Ofcom will no longer be required to migrate services from DAB to DAB+ on national and local
multiplexes, giving broadcasters greater flexibility to tailor their approach to DAB+ to take account of
their specific market conditions. Multiplex operators and radio stations will be required to work
together to ensure that listeners are informed about migration of services to DAB+. 115 Furthermore,
in our July 2019 consultation on small-scale DAB, we are proposing to require small-scale DAB
multiplexes to use DAB+ only, to enable more services to be carried.
114 DAB uses MPEG 1 Layer II compression (sometimes called MP2) , while DAB+ uses the more recent MPEG 4
HE-AAC V2 compression. DAB+ also includes more robust error compression which helps to improve the
reception of stations.
115 Revisions to Digital Radio Technical Codes Statement following consultation (June 2019)
Figure 4.16: coverage of DAB services: March 2019
Source: BBC, Arqiva, Ofcom.
Although DAB is the most established technology for broadcasting terrestrial broadcast digital radio,
it is possible to use other technologies. In February 2019, the BBC started trialling digital radio
broadcasts using a 5G mobile test network in Orkney. Whether going over fixed or mobile networks,
the current delivery of radio over the internet is achieved by sending a separate data stream to each
listener wishing to listen to the station online. The technology tested in Orkney means that a single
stream is sent to the entire mobile cell, which can then be accessed by anyone who has a handset
that supports reception of broadcasts over cellular networks, and who has downloaded a specially
modified version of the BBC Sounds app. In May 2019 the BBC announced that the trial would
continue until the end of September 2019.
As in the UK, governments and regulators around the world are carrying out work to
consider the future role of digital radio among the broader audio mix
In December 2018, European legislation (the European Electronic Communications Code, or EECC) 116
came into force, mandating that by 2020 all new car radios sold in the European Union must be
capable of receiving digital terrestrial radio (manufacturers can continue to include analogue
reception as well). The legislation also enables member states to go further than this and mandate
that all radios sold in their countries include a digital receiver. Prior to this, some European countries
116See Annex XI Directive (EU) 2018/1972 establishing the European Electronic Communications Code (ECC)
BBC UK-wide Commercial
Digital One Sound Digital Local DAB
Homes 97.4% 91.7% 82.6% 91.0%
Major roads 87.4% 80.2% 72.6% 75.2%
Homes 98.4% 94.8% 86.7% 92.3%
Major roads 94.5% 93.9% 89.8% 85.0%
Homes 95.3% 81.7% 69.0% 85.4%
Major roads 69.1% 45.5% 33.6% 45.6%
Homes 92.2% 67.5% 56.9% 82.6%
Major roads 78.1% 53.3% 37.7% 60.9%
Northern Ireland
Homes 87.3% 85.4% 56.8% 87.5%
Major roads 79.3% 86.9% 55.0% 87.8%
including Italy and France had already enacted legislation mandating that radios sold in those
countries included digital receivers. 117
Work is also under way in the UK. In May 2019, the DCMS announced a digital radio review; it plans
to work with broadcasters and the radio supply chain to “ensure a healthy and vibrant digital future
for UK radio”.
According to GfK data, between 2017 and 2018 the proportion of radio118 sales in Great Britain
involving a device with only an analogue tuner fell slightly from 56% to 55%. Although household
DAB penetration has risen over time to 66.5%119, the number of DAB radios sold (1.3 million in
2018) remains lower than the number of analogue-only radio devices (1.6 million), and both DAB
and analogue radio sales volumes are declining year on year. In contrast, the number of smart audio
devices sold grew by 83% between 2017 and 2018 to reach 2.5 million units, driven by the purchase
of smart speakers.
Audio on demand: music streaming
More people are using music streaming services
The number of people using free (normally ad-supported) or subscription audio streaming services
has increased in recent years. According to TouchPoints, 42% of adults listen to a music-streaming
service (including using YouTube and Facebook video in the background) each week, increasing to
83% of adults aged 15-24. Looking specifically at YouTube, in 2018, 62% of users of online video
services said they watched music videos, and YouTube channels associated with music videos have
among the highest reach on YouTube. For more detail on how people in the UK are using YouTube,
please see the Online Video chapter.
Looking more specifically at music streaming services (excluding YouTube and Facebook), the
proportion of adults listening to music via an audio streaming service increased from 26% to 31%
between 2017 and 2018, driven by growth in the proportion listening to a paid-for service (from 17%
to 23%, equivalent to a 35% year-on-year change). Weekly use of paid-for or free streaming services
varies significantly between demographic groups and declines with age. It is highest among 15-24s
(67%) falling to 6% of over-64s. Weekly use of Spotify (either via a paid subscription or the free
advertising-funded version) grew 4pp year on year to 21% of adults in 2018.
117 In France these provisions were enacted once coverage of DAB exceeded 20% of the population (achieved
in December 2018), while the Italian legislation passed in 2017 mandates that all radios sold from 2020 have
can receive digital services
118 Radio volumes include audio home radio systems, portable radios, alarm clock radios, boomboxes and
after-market car radios 119 RAJAR Q1 2019
Figure 4.17: Weekly use of audio streaming services
Source: TouchPoints 2017 and 2018. Base: GB adults 15+ Excludes background use of YouTube and Facebook
Overall retail music industry revenues grew by 6% in real terms between 2017 and 2018,
while music streaming revenues grew by 34%
Total UK music revenue grew by 6% in real terms to reach £1344m in 2018. Physical sales, which
accounted for over half of retail revenues five years ago, fell by 19% in real terms between 2017 and
2018 and accounted for only 29% of revenue by 2018. This decline has been driven by falls in sales of
CDs, although sales of LPs (sought by music collectors) have continued to grow, albeit from a small
base, and reached £91m in 2018. Sales of older physical formats such as cassettes have also grown,
albeit from very low bases.120
Take-up of subscription-based music streaming services such as Spotify Premium and Apple Music by
UK consumers drove music streaming subscription retail revenues to reach £829m in 2018, an
increase of 34% in real terms since 2017. Consequently, streaming subscription revenues in 2018
exceeded estimated total expenditure on BBC radio for the first time.
120 For example, in 2018 50,000 cassette albums were sold, the highest since 2004, (in contrast to 4.2 million
LPs) {Source: PBI Yearbook / Official Charts Company) Physical releases have also been made on other older
formats for such as minidisc, 8-track tape and digital compact cassette (DCC), for the collectors’ market, albeit
as limited editions.
17% 17%
Net (free and/or paid) Free Paid for Spotify (paid or free)
2017 2018
Figure 4.18: UK retail music revenues (£m)
Source: Official Charts Company and ERA estimates. Adjusted for CPI at 2018 prices by Ofcom. Note: Physical
formats includes LP, CDs physical format singles, music DVD and other minority formats.
The growth in streaming has also led to an increase in music industry revenues accounted for by
streaming. Overall industry revenue from streaming reached £516m in 2018121 (an increase of 30%
in real terms year on year) and accounted for 60% of the sector’s wholesale revenues.
Audio streaming services are continuing to evolve
Although fewer adults use audio streaming services than listen to live radio, and radio accounts for
the majority of listening activity among the population as a whole, music streaming is especially
important for younger demographics.
As both broadcasters and audio-streaming platforms evolve, there is evidence that they are seeking
to borrow from each other’s strengths as they compete for attention. Spotify’s Your Daily Drive
playlist in the US integrates music with updated news bulletins (provided by the Wall Street Journal,
NPR and Public Radio International). Although the speech-based content does not include local
traffic or weather reports, the integration of time-relevant speech-based content alongside
personalised playlists arguably make the experience more like a personal radio station, rather than a
traditional music streaming service. In contrast, digital radio stations (such as the branded stations
offering music from a specific decade or genre) offer their listeners more defined and specific music
genres than is possible with more traditional station formats. Broadcasters including Global, Bauer
and the BBC are investing in their own players which integrate live listening with listen-again and
podcast content, and playlists. 122
121 BPI Yearbook 2018. Figure refers to all streaming. CPI-adjusted year-on-year calculation: Ofcom 122 However due to rights issues music forming part of on-demand content published by radio broadcasters
alongside is sometimes subject to restrictions on quantity and how music may be played.
567 562 517 481 392
178 268 428
616 829
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Physical formats
Audio on demand: the rise of podcasts
Music is not the only type of audio content that consumers are increasingly accessing on demand
rather than via broadcast radio. There is no firm definition of a podcast, but in essence they are
episodic speech-based pieces of content, primarily audio-based though some also have
accompanying video content. They lend themselves to the current era of convenience: they are
generally relatively short and can be consumed as and when it suits the individual. Podcasts are
heterogenous; the range of organisations publishing podcasts, their genres, business models and
production schedules are all very broad.
A wide range of organisations and individuals publish podcasts
Among the types of organisations publishing podcasts, some of the highest profile are the traditional
radio broadcasters such as the BBC. The BBC Sounds app is responding to the evolving ways in which
people are choosing to listen to audio; it offers audiences live radio broadcasts and on-demand
content. This content can include repurposed broadcast content, bespoke material or third-party
podcasts. Some of the highest-profile US podcasts, including This American Life, have their
background in public radio in the US. TV broadcasters in the UK and beyond are also beginning to
provide podcasts to extend audience engagement for key programmes. News brands such as The
New York Times, The Guardian and The Economist are also providing content from their own
journalists, as well as providing links to other news or topical podcasts. Independent podcasters
talking about anything from a celebrity’s favourite meal to true crime documentaries are a key
contributor to the long tail of content.
Other types of organisations involved in the podcasting space include media brands such as
magazine publishers and music groups, 123 dedicated podcast networks and on-demand audio
platforms such as music streaming and audio-book services which are commissioning and publishing
their own podcasts. Finally, organisations including public bodies, membership organisations and
businesses may publish podcasts to promote their organisation’s mission and/or as a form of
marketing and promotional activity.
In the table below, we show some examples of UK-based podcasts and their publishers, although as
our consumer research demonstrates, listeners in the UK consume both domestic and non-UK
123 For example, Sony Music has formed a joint venture to produce original podcasts
Figure 4.19: Examples of UK-based podcast publishers and podcasts
Source: Ofcom analysis.
Given a lack of standard industry measurement system for podcasts, we commissioned
research to better understand how listeners use podcasts
In addition to, or perhaps as a consequence of, the difficulties in agreeing the definition of a podcast
is the current lack of an established audience measurement system for podcast listening in the UK.
As for television viewing, it is challenging to measure listening to non-linear audio content,
something the industry is now beginning to grapple with. Currently, data about podcast
consumption in the UK tends to be based on surveys or diary studies while some distribution
platforms, including iTunes and the BBC, provide some proprietary information on downloads and
Description Examples
Podcasts produced by radio broadcasters which background in live
radio. Podcasts may include repurposed radio content and/or ‘bornnative’ podcast content which has not been previously broadcast on
a radio station. Often monetised via advertising and sponsorship or
funded via licence fee (BBC).
Ellie & Hannah Have Issues (Heart), Brexitcast (Radio 5 Live)
Frank Skinner Show (Absolute Radio), Premier League Preview
Show (TalkSPORT), Tomorrow’s Nerd (Global)
Podcasts developed from or associated with TV programmes. Often
monetised via advertising and sponsorship or funded via licence fee
Obsessed With Line of Duty (BBC), Love Island (ITV), Channel4
News (C4) The Gary Neville Podcast (Sky), Ffit Cymru (S4C)
Newsbrands Podcasts published by non-broadcaster newsbrands. Some of these
podcasts are daily news shows, while others are more thematic.
Often monetised via sponsorship and/or advertising or used as a
promotional material to promote subscriptions. These may
sometimes sit behind the paywall as part of the overall offering to
Today in Focus (Guardian), Sun Football Podcast (Sun), Brexit
Podcast (Telegraph), The Intelligence (Economist), FT Money
Show podcast (Financial Times)
Other media
Podcasts published by organisations with significant presence in
other types of media, for example magazine or book publishing.
Podcasts may be used to supplement other types of content
produced by the organisation, as a way of reaching new audiences
and as a source of additional revenue and/or be used as a
promotional tool.
Appearances (British Vogue), Wired UK Podcast (Wired UK),
Empire Podcast (Empire), The Penguin Podcast (Penguin)
Wide range of organisations and individuals in the UK whose
activities are focussed on production and publication of podcasts on
both a commercial and non-commercial basis. Wide variation in
genres, scale of operations and funding sources.
Retro Hour Podcast (retro gaming), Wooden Overcoats (drama /
sitcom), The Unseen Hour (horror / drama), The Guilty Feminist
(comedy), The Football Ramble (sport)
Podcasts produced by a wide range of for-profit, not-for-profit and
public sector organisations whose primary purpose is not media
production. These organisations may be using podcasts to engage
with audiences to promote the organisation’s broader objectives (for
example in relation to education, outreach or health), as a
promotional activity, or a service targeted specifically at the
organisation’s members. Depending on the purpose of the podcast,
it might not be monetised directly and may run for a relatively
limited number of episodes.
Future Curious (Nesta), Strength and Flex plan (NHS), Big Idea
(Edinburgh University), The British Museum Membercast
(British Museum), PLT: Behind Closed Doors (Pretty Little Thing),
FRS 102 Podcast (Institute of Chartered Accountants of England
and Wales)
Figures from RAJAR indicate that one in eight adults now listen to podcasts each week. The average
age of a weekly podcast listener is 39, around ten years younger than a typical radio listener. The
demographic profile of weekly podcast listeners skews towards male (60%) and ABC1 (71%). The
skew used to be younger, but this has changed; 47% of listeners are now under 35, compared to 58%
ten years ago.
To help provide insight in this area we commissioned further research to understand more about
weekly podcast listeners.
YouTube was the most commonly used way to listen to podcasts among weekly listeners
Despite podcasts primarily being considered an audio product, our survey found that YouTube was
the service most frequently cited among weekly listeners as a way to access podcasts. These are
video podcasts and are particularly popular among the 35-54 age group. One of the most prominent
examples during our survey period was The Joe Rogan Experience, an American comedian who
interviews a range of guests and whose podcasts typically last over two hours.
The most-used audio-only service for weekly podcast listeners was BBC iPlayer Radio and was
particularly popular among older listeners. Overall, 39% of weekly podcast listeners use any BBC
service to access their podcasts, increasing to 68% of over-54s and decreasing to 30% of 18-34s.
Younger podcast listeners were more likely to use Spotify and Apple than BBC services.
Figure 4.20: Services used to access podcasts
Source: Populus Research, March 2019; only services with an overall reach of >10% are shown
According to RAJAR, the number of people listening to podcasts each week has grown by 58% over
the past two years, corresponding with the findings from our survey which indicate that just over
half our sample have been listening to podcasts for less than two years. Two-thirds of listeners say
they listen to more podcasts now than when they first started listening. On average, regular podcast
users listen to around seven podcasts each week, with around 70% saying they listen to most or all
of each podcast.
124 Populus Research; fieldwork March 2019, sample 1,036 weekly podcast listeners aged 18+
32% 30%
26% 27%
19% 20% 20%
15% 16%
13% 13% 13% 12% 12%
12% 11%
8% 10% 10% 11%
10% 10% 11%
Adults 18+ 18-34 35-54 55+
YouTube BBC iPlayer Radio Spotify
Apple podcasts iTunes BBC Sounds
Specialist podcast site / app (e.g. Overcastr, Stitcher) Any newspaper site / app GooglePlay
Soundcloud Podcast site (e.g.
The BBC had the highest reach of all podcast publishers among those we surveyed
Three-quarters of our sample say they listen to a podcast of a BBC radio programme, the highest of
any type of podcast. From the diary data we found that these are accessed not only through BBC
services but also through services including Apple and Spotify. Among younger regular listeners,
podcasts with videos are the most popular choice, closely followed by BBC podcasts. Podcasts from
commercial radio stations were also referenced, including LBC, talkSPORT and Radio X.
As well as video podcasts, another audio-visual connection is the numbers of people choosing
podcasts associated with a TV programme. Although for weekly podcast listeners this is the least
popular type of podcast that we asked about in terms of reach, more than half have listened to
them. The main TV programme-related podcasts mentioned in our sample week were Game of
Thrones, Line of Duty and West Wing. In June 2019, it was announced that ITV podcasts had been
added to Global Radio’s audio service, Globalplayer.
Figure 4.21: Types of podcast ever listened to
Source: Populus Research, March 2019
The main reason given for listening to podcasts is to be entertained (63%), so unsurprisingly,
entertainment podcasts are the genre most listened to (57% of our sample) followed by comedy
podcasts (54%). However, discussion and talk shows are also popular, listened to by 53% each week,
as are news and current affairs (49%). Brexitcast, a BBC Radio 5 live podcast, was named regularly
across our sample week, and in June 2019, it was announced that this would become a weekly
programme on BBC One.
70% 69%
72% 73%
57% 59% 59%
52% 50% 52% 52%
Adults 18+ 18-34 35-54 55+
BBC radio programmes Other BBC podcasts Podcasts with videos
Newspaper/magazine podcasts Non-BBC radio programmes Podcasts linked to TV programmes
Podcast providers are also capitalising on celebrity culture, and podcasts with well-known
personalities are proving popular. In our sample week, for example, podcasts by David Tennant,
Jessie Ware, Peter Crouch, Fearne Cotton and Ricky Gervais all featured.
Figure 4.22: Genres listened to each week
Source: Populus Research, March 2019
Different types of podcasts appear on different services; for example, BBC Sounds is more likely to
be used for fiction/drama than Apple, largely driven by Radio 4’s The Archers. BBC Sounds is also
more likely than either Spotify or Apple to be used for news and current affairs podcasts, mainly
driven by Radio 4 and Radio 5 live content. Both BBC Sounds and Spotify are more likely than Apple
to be used for sports podcasts.
Podcasts are helping some listeners discover radio programmes
Although a quarter of podcast listeners say they listen to less radio as a result of their podcast
listening, a similar proportion say they listen to more. BBC Sounds appears to be helping users
discover radio content; 37% of listeners say they have listened to a radio programme for the first
time as a result of listening to a podcast.
The wider media consumption behaviour of regular podcast listeners differs from that of nonlisteners. Young people spend around a third of their AV/audio time listening to content rather than
watching it, but this increases to 43% among those who are regular podcast users. Young people
overall prefer to consume content at their convenience; two-thirds of their time is spent with ondemand content. This is even more marked among young weekly podcast listeners; three-quarters
of their listening time is with on-demand content.
Figure 4.23: Proportion of time spent on AV / audio content: all 15-24s vs. weekly podcast listeners
aged 15-24
Source: TouchPoints 2018.
Podcast producers are experimenting with a range of funding sources, but revenues
remain small compared to both radio and music streaming
Advertising revenues for UK podcasts are a small fraction of radio advertising revenues, with some
agency estimates placing these in the region of £10m.
126 , Producers of podcasts (in particular
independent publishers) are continuing to experiment with a range of funding sources, especially
those whose subject matter or relatively small audience size may make advertising less appealing as
source of revenue. For example, certain UK-based drama, comedy and horror podcasts, such as the
Unseen Hour and Wooden Overcoats among others, allow their fans to pay to attend recordings or
performances carried out at live shows. Others offer their fans the opportunity to purchase branded
merchandise. Online funding platforms such as Patreon are also used by some to generate regular
payments from fans, while other producers have crowdsourcing platforms such as Kickstarter to
fund particular seasons of podcasts.
Luminary launched in April 2019 as a subscription-based service with exclusive podcasts behind
paywalls. Other platforms providing access to exclusive podcast content include Spotify, which has
made several podcast-related acquisitions in the past year including podcast network Gimlet Media
and Parcast (helping Spotify build its content library), in addition to Anchor (which provides tools for
podcast producers). In developing its podcast offering Spotify notes that podcast listeners spend on
average almost twice as long on the platform compared to non-listeners (thereby listening to more
music) and it sees an opportunity in offering exclusive content to encourage consumers to try the
AV content
Audio content
Proportion of time spent with AV v audio
content each week
Live content
On-demand content
Proportion of time spent with live v on-demand
content each week
Adults 15-24 Weekly podcast
listeners aged 15-24
Wkly podcast
listeners (15+)
content 68% 55%
content 32% 45%
Wkly podcast
listeners (15+)
Live content 68% 51%
content 32% 49%
service. 127 In July 2019 it was reported that Apple was considering investing in exclusive podcast
content. 128
When asked, 40% of weekly podcast listeners agreed that they would be happy to pay to subscribe
to their favourite podcasts, with 11% of weekly podcast listeners strongly agreeing. When asked
about the amount of advertising in podcasts, 33% agreed with the statement that there were too
many adverts on the podcasts they listened to, although only 6% strongly agreed with this
statement, and 32% neither agreed nor disagreed. Over half (55%) agreed with the statement that
they trusted what they hear in podcasts.
Solving challenges around discoverability and measurement is likely to help the sector to
grow and innovate
Discoverability and measurement of the estimated 750,000 podcast titles 130 will be of critical
importance to the ongoing development of the sector. Although in our research, 69% of weekly
podcast listeners agreed that they find it easy to find out about podcasts that they might enjoy, and
only 12% disagreed, regular podcast listeners may be more confident and knowledgeable than
podcast listeners as a whole about finding this information.
Approaches vary on how to make podcasts and other audio content more discoverable for listeners,
but generally rely on an algorithm or are based on users’ own curations.
Recommendation algorithms often involve the recommendation of content similar to content
already consumed by the user, as it is assumed that past listening activity is a predictor of the type of
content favoured by the listener, helping to keep them engaged with the platform and potentially
reducing churn for subscription-based services.
However, public service broadcasters may have broader objectives, leading to more innovative
plans. in May 2019, the BBC announced that it was developing a ‘public service algorithm’ for its
Sounds app, designed to expose listeners to more diverse and ‘unexpected’ content, rather than
content similar to that already listened to.
Given the importance of measurement for advertising, initiatives such as the Internet Advertising
Bureau’s guidance on podcast measurement in the US 132 have been designed to standardise
definitions across the value chain and help develop the podcast advertising market.
The way podcasts are distributed has enabled them to be available on a wide range of platforms,
aiding discoverability and global reach, but also presenting challenges around measurement and
127 128 129 Ofcom research, March 2019 130 Chartable 131 132 See The second edition of the
guidelines was published in December 2017.
monetisation, and potentially giving rise to conflicts between publishers and client platforms. For
• In March 2019, the BBC removed access to its podcasts via certain Google services in
response to its concerns about the prioritisation of Google’s own podcasting app in search
results over third party apps including BBC Sounds. 133 The BBC is also experimenting with
exclusive early windowing of some of its podcasts via its own Sounds app;
134 there have
been some complaints about this.
• Several large podcast publishers requested that Luminary remove access to its podcasts
from its platform, expressing concerns about licensing, the availability of analytics data
(reflecting the use of proxy servers 136), and the removal of links137 from episodes’ show
notes. Luminary responded by making changes to its platform, removing the proxy servers
and replacing the episode links.
133 134 135 136 Traffic is routed via a proxy server which sits between the podcast host and the end user. Even if the server
is not used for caching (i.e. local storage of the podcast to increase speed) and is simply a pass-through, using
this arrangement may make it difficult for the podcast host server analytics to identify the number of
individual end users. See 137 Which may include links for donations.

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