Here are the highlights from Ofcom’s annual report on the state of Britain’s communications market, showing major changes in how we behave and generational shifts
You’re probably watching less television than you used to
We watched less ‘live’ television – either as it is broadcast or recorded on a PVR system such as Sky+ – last year than in 2012. That’s the first annual drop user the current measuring system, which has been in place for four years. BBC One and Channel 4 accounted for most of the decline.
Ofcom says “the jury is still out on whether this is a one of blip or start of a long term trend”. Factors at work include the growth of video consumption on smartphones and the boost to viewing figures in previous years from bad weather in summer, and the 2012 Olympics.
But it still dominates
We’re still a nation of telly addicts. Average viewing time per day was down last year, but only by nine minutes, to three hours 52 minutes. Four fifths of adults are watching live at 9pm and more than a fifth said live television would be the media or communications activity that would miss the most.
The television industry is also enjoying the strongest growth across the sector. It generated £12.9bn in revenue last year, an increase of 3.4pc. Most of the growth came from pay-TV, which now accounts for nearly half all revenues and expanded as a result of the BT’s push on sport and TalkTalk’s entry into the market.
Unless you’re young
Traditional television is a lower priority for young people. Only 3pc of 16 to 24-year-olds said live programming was the activity they would miss the most. Meanwhile more than a fifth said text messaging would be the most lamented.
Young people are also watching less television than they used to. Between 2010 and 2012 their average daily viewing fell from 169 minutes to 157 minutes. Live television accounted for only half their time consuming audio-visual content, compared with more than two thirds for the overall adult population.
Teenagers don’t talk much either
It’s time to drop the stereotype of the teenager glued to the phone in the evening. Those aged 16 to 24 spend only 9pc of their total time communicating on voice calls, versus 20pc for the broader population. For 12 to 15-year-olds, which Ofcom is calling the “millennium generation”, the generation gap is even more striking: they spend just 3pc of their communications time on the phone.
Instead of speaking to each other, teenagers now tend to use text-based forms of communications. Instant messaging,social networking and text messaging are all much more prevalent among 12 to 15-year-olds than in the adult population. The exception is email, which takes up the majority of communications time among adults but is nearly non-existent among those too young for an office job.
Overall you probably spend most of your waking hours communicating and consuming media
In the last four years the average total time per day spent glued to smartphones, TV, radio and myriad other forms of communications has increased by more than two hours to 11 hours seven minutes. There’s an element of double counting here – multitasking has increased and If you spend an hour in front of the TV while also fiddling with your tablet Ofcom counts it as two hours – but stripping the figure of eight hours 41 minutes is still a record.
Without double counting the figure is eight hours 41 minutes, which is longer than the average time we spend sleeping, at eight hours 21 minutes, and much more than the time we leave for eating, face-to-face interaction and such, at six hours 58 minutes.
Again, there are multiple factors at work, but the two most important are smartphones, which mean that activities such as commuting are now opportunities to communicate, and the movement of an increasing number of activities online. Shopping, dealing with the government and
And you might wish you didn’t
The ability to access emails and work files at all hours of the day, from anywhere is having an impact on work-life balance, the reseacrh shows. But nearly half of those surveyed said the trends are not having much impact on them, yet at least. Of those that did report an impact, more said technology is improving matters for them than making it worse, with technoogy enabling people to run their lives at work as well as do work outside the office.
Four out of five workers said there was at least one disadvantage to their work-life balance from technology, however.
But at least it’s all costing you less
In spite of the the bigger role media and communications are playing in our daily lives, on the whole the industry is making less money from each of us. While the television indusrty grew last year, radio, telecoms and post all reported lower revenues. In the case of telecoms, the biggest sector, the reduction is mostly due to a regulatory clampdown on mobile wholesale prices.
Average total household spend per month has fallen from £127 in 2008 to £117 last year. In spite of this the media and communications have maintained their share of wallet at about 5.5pc through the recession, as a result of households economising on food, holidays and other more discretionary spending. As the internet is increasingly embedded in everyday life, Britons increasingly see media and communications spending as an essential utility, says Ofcom.