We may be experiencing an explosion of new viewing opportunities with the majority of consumers now having access to smartphones, tablets and laptops, but new research from Mintel reveals when it comes to our TV viewing habits, Brits still love the box. Latest research from Mintel highlights the nation’s love of the television itself, with as many as nine in 10 (87%) Brits having watched live or on-demand content on the TV in the last three months*.

Overall, live television still leads with nine in ten (90%) consumers watching live television, compared to under two thirds (62%) who go on-demand. What’s more, even catch-up viewers are opting for the television – Mintel research shows that 76% of on-demand viewers have watched this content on television in the past three months.

Indeed, according to Mintel, the majority of Brits are still reluctant to view television programmes and films on other devices. Just one in five (19%) desktop/laptop owners use this device to watch live TV, with the same proportion (19%) of tablet owners doing so on their handheld screen. And while three quarters (76%) of Brits now own a smartphone, today only one in ten (10%) users view live TV on this device. Meanwhile, in terms of the number of people accessing on-demand services, just over two in five (43%) computer owners view catch-up content on a desktop or laptop, albeit slightly more than the proportion of tablet (34%) and smartphone owners (16%) who do so on their devices.

90% of Brits watch live television

Paul Davies, Senior Leisure and Technology Analyst at Mintel, said:

“The fact that the vast majority of Brits still view TV on the television somewhat counters claims that TV is becoming divorced from the television set itself. As well as wanting to view content on the biggest and best screen available to them, consumers also like the social aspect of watching TV with others and having the ability to use ‘second screens’ such as smartphones and tablets to multitask. This gives broadcasters a great opportunity to develop adjoining material to engage ‘second screeners’, many of whom show a willingness to interact with related content.”

Furthermore, Mintel reveals that although the TV is the nation’s preferred viewing device, only 28% of consumers have a smart TV at home, meaning the majority rely on an external source to hook online content up to their main screen, such as a set-top box, games console or streaming media device.

Indeed, it seems for many the remote control is the go-to choice as nearly three quarters (73%) of people who watch live or on-demand TV say they usually flick through TV channels before switching to on-demand. Additionally, 71% of all viewers say they try to watch as much of their favourite content when originally broadcast, which is likely to be partly down to the fact that they like to discuss TV as part of their social life during or after the show (49%). Meanwhile, half (48%) of all Brits feel more engaged when watching live TV compared to on-demand. Overall, some 40% of consumers aged 16-24 use social media to talk about what they are watching during broadcasts, up from a national average of 24%.

Among the 22% of Brits who view TV on mobile devices, almost two in five (37%) say they don’t like watching full programmes or films on smartphones and tablets. Furthermore, some 42% of mobile viewers would be interested in watching bite-sized content (ie five-minute episodes) on these devices. Three in 10 (29%) mobile viewers would even consider paying for a mobile-only video subscription service, highlighting potential for stripped-down versions of popular streaming services.

Elsewhere, some 43% of mobile viewers only watch TV on a mobile device when out of home and almost half (49%) of mobile viewers say they only watch content on these devices to ‘kill time’.

Furthermore, technological frustrations can cause limitations, as 62% of mobile viewers say the lack of a Wi-Fi connection has sometimes stopped them from watching video on their smartphone or tablet.

“Mobile viewing is still in its infancy with few consumers choosing to tune in to live or on-demand programmes via smartphones. Yet the category offers broadcasters so much potential given the rise in mobile ownership and usage in recent years. As mobile screens get bigger and connection speeds improve, there is huge potential for online TV providers to encourage more people to watch content while on the go. Online video aggregators that pull-in content from a range of sources to create themed playlists or loops could appeal to groups such as commuters who often want short snippets of entertainment. ” Paul adds.

Mintel research shows that the top three genres consumers make sure they stay in for is news or current affairs shows, with 70% of live TV watchers watching this live, followed by two thirds (64%) who watch entertainment and comedy shows live and 63% who watch documentaries or factual programmes live. In comparison, the top three genres watched on-demand are drama and soaps with 54% of those who watch on-demand TV watching these on catch-up, films (48%) and entertainment and comedy programmes (46%). Overall, despite the increased usage of on-demand services, these are very much used to top-up live TV, rather than replace it altogether, with just 3% of viewers relying solely on video on-demand services.

“There are three genres that consumers clearly make an extra effort to watch live – news/current affairs, sport and game shows. For the three live-dominated genres it could be a matter of consumers not wanting to miss out, not only on real-time developments that can create an extra sense of drama, but also on conversations taking place on social media sites or in person.” Paul concludes.

*Three months to July 2015

Press review copies of Mintel’s TV Viewing Habits UK 2015 report and interviews with Senior Leisure and Technology Analyst Paul Davies are available on request from the press office.

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