Ofcom reveals the UK’s binge watching habits

Ofcom reveals the UK’s binge watching habits

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House of Cards on Netflix (Credit: Netflix)

Ofcom has revealed that eight out of ten adults in the UK use catch-up technology and online subscription services to watch television series.

The research shows that UK viewers favour binge watching television series over waiting for new episodes each week, with 40 million people watching series back-to-back.

One third of the people binge watching episodes do so every week, and more than half do so monthly.

The study, included in the annual Communications Market Research 2017, has also shown a significant difference in viewing habits between younger and older audiences. 

More than half of those aged between 12-15 years old enjoy weekly catch-up sessions compared to just 16% of over 65s, with more than half of the latter age group preferring the more traditional viewing habit of watching one episode per week.

The study has found that seven out of ten 16-24 year olds use a subscription service compared to only 19% of people aged 65 and over.

However, the findings show that 47% of people between the ages of 16-24 are attempting to cut down the amount they watch.

Nearly a third of the viewers admit they have sacrificed sleep in order to watch another episode of their favourite series, and 74% of viewers admit to watching more episodes than they intend to, with many saying they felt pressurised into watching them to avoid spoilers.

Viewers of series released as boxsets on online platforms such as Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Orphan Black and Clique on the likes of BBC Three and Netflix can be in danger of having the endings of their favourite shows spoiled before they have managed to catch up on the episodes at the same time as friends or postings on social media.


Orphan Black can be streamed on Netflix
and previously on BBC Three (Credit: BBC)

“Technology has revolutionised the way we watch TV," said Lindsey Fussell, Consumer Group Director at Ofcom. "The days of waiting a week for the next episode are largely gone, with people finding it hard to resist watching multiple episodes around the house or on the move."

“But live television still has a special draw, and the power to bring the whole family together in a common experience.”

It reports that two in five adults watch television alone every day, and one third of people reveal that they watch different programmes in the same rooms as their family and friends. 

Out of the streaming services used by 79% of adults in the UK, BBC iPlayer was named the most popular on-demand service with 63% of adults using the online platform.

The online service was followed by 40% using ITV Hub, 38% seeking online content on YouTube and 31% of adults using Netflix's subscription service.

On-demand services such as All 4 and ITV Hub are popular with all age groups; 75% of young adults aged 16-24s and 59% of over-65s are said to regularly use the online services.

However, despite the increase in binge watching figures, nine out of ten people still watch live television every week, and 70% of people still gather and watch television as a family at least once a week. 

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Ofcom has revealed that eight out of ten adults in the UK use catch-up technology and online subscription services to watch television series.