“Don’t talk, it’s time to catch up!” becomes the mantra in UK homes

“Don’t talk, it’s time to catch up!” becomes the mantra

New data shows that the typical British family continues to congregate around a TV set. Today’s modern family is, however, drawn towards catch up – rather than real-time – viewing.

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  • No clear winner in ‘battle of the screen’ as viewing behaviour varies by age
  • Potential significant impact on broadcasters as viewing habits change
  • Newspapers not yet ready to fold as digital versions are embraced

After years of being told that ‘family viewing time’ around the television will become a thing of the past, new data shows that the typical British family continues to congregate around a TV set. Today’s modern family is, however, drawn towards catch up – rather than real-time – viewing.

According to KPMG’s latest Media Tracker, almost eight out of ten (77%) respondents had watched catch-up TV over the past month, with 18-24 year olds leading this trend (86% for the group).  Viewing behaviour is becoming dominated by a desire to control broadcasts with 42% saying they watch catch-up TV compared to 24% who watch programmes as they are broadcast. Televisions are the most common device for catch-up viewing at 53%, followed by desktops/laptops (33%), tablets (22%) and smartphones (10%).

The figures – which are based on a survey of 1,500 people – confirm a generational divide in the way TV programmes are watched. Amongst 18-24 year olds, over 50% opted to stream their favourite TV shows on their personal computers rather than watching it through a television set.  One in five (21%) went further, claiming they do not have access to a television set.  In addition, while TV programme consumption across all UK households is expected to increase in the next six months, nearly 30% of young people expect to be watching programmes on their computers, at the expense of the traditional TV set (18% expect a decrease).

Commenting on the Media Tracker results, David Elms, Head of Media at KPMG, says:  “What we can see is an industry in transition. Catch-up TV is beginning to drive viewing more than live broadcasts and the younger generation is pushing that trend much faster through their rapid adoption of a whole range of viewing devices. This has huge implications for the whole industry.  Streaming providers, such as Netflix and Amazon TV, are increasingly able to play at a level playing field with major broadcasters.

"The industry is clearly undergoing a period of rapid change and media businesses need to think on their feet to stay ahead of the curve. The traditional commercial broadcast model, which relies heavily on advertising revenues, will need to adapt and, over time, there are potentially significant implications for TV licence fees."

Elsewhere, whilst many continue to predict the end of traditional newspapers, UK households across all age and income groups were found to be embracing news through web-based newspapers and magazines. Online news has become more popular for young people, who were found to be over three times as likely to increase their consumption of news online, as opposed to decrease it in the coming six months.

Tablet owners were found to be the most likely device owners to consume newspapers and magazines electronically, with over a third (36%) of them using their device for this purpose. David Elms commented that "this clearly highlights the opportunity for our newspaper sector as it increasingly migrates to a digital model. The key remains to create and evolve a model that is embraced by the consumer."

The UK media sector continues steady growth

On the economic side of media, business conditions have continued to show positive growth. According to the KPMG-sponsored research, overall conditions registered 54.0 on the Index (a score above 50 equates to growth), outperforming the long-run average (51.6).  The outlook for the media sector was found to be similar to the wider economy in remaining positive, and the sector registered its second consecutive calendar year of growth in 2014.

However the pace of improvement has struggled for lift off, with the sector’s average business activity figure for 2014 reading at 51.9, which was only slightly higher than in last year  (51.3). This was also a long way from the average figure from the period leading up to the recession (the index averaged 55.7 from 2000 to 2007).  Job security was also a concern for one-in-four media professionals, who perceived their job security to have deteriorated in Q4, compared to the 11% who thought that it had increased.

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About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 12,000 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.9 billion in the year ended September 2014. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 162,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.

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