Wales top of the UK for TV viewing

03 August 2017

  • People in Wales watch half an hour more TV a day than the rest of the UK
  • More than half of Welsh adults watch using on-demand and catch-up
  • Almost three in ten people in Wales enjoy weekly TV binges

People in Wales watch around four hours of TV a day, Ofcom research reveals, 28 minutes more than the rest of the UK and the other nations.

Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2017, published today, reveals differences between the viewing and listening habits of people in Wales compared those in the UK.

While TV viewing is slowly declining, people in Wales still watch four hours on average per day, compared to 3 hours 32 minutes for the wider UK.

Higher viewing in Wales could be explained by Wales’ audience profile; it has consistently had the highest proportion of its viewers (53% in 2016) aged 55 and over, an age group which typically watches more TV than younger people.

Average minutes of television viewing per day, by nation: 2011-2016

Wales watch more minutes of television per day than any other UK nation

Evolving TV habits

Ofcom’s research shows that people in Wales are taking advantage of being able to watch programmes wherever they like.

More than eight in ten (84%) said they like the ability to watch what they want, when they want, and two thirds (67%) said they like watching programmes on-demand to avoid adverts.

The public service broadcasters’ catch-up services are the most popular catch-up services in Wales. BBC iPlayer is used by six in ten (62%) people, and ITV Hub is used by more than four in ten (44%).

62% of adults in Wales use BBC iPlayer, compared to 63% across the UK

On-demand and streaming technology has created the ability to watch multiple episodes back-to-back, sometimes referred to as “binge watching”, which removes the weekly wait to find out what happens in the next episode.

More than seven in ten (74%) people in Wales binge watch. Nearly three in ten (28%) have weekly ‘watch-athons’ and almost half (46%) binge on a monthly basis.

The vast majority of binge watchers (76%) in Wales find this type of viewing enjoyable or relaxing, but more than three in ten (33%) said binge watching has made them miss out on sleep.

5% of people in Wales watch multiple episodes of the same programme back-to-back in one sitting; 28% at least weekly; 46% at least monthly; 25% never

For many, watching TV is now a solo activity. Around half (49%) of people in Wales say they watch TV programmes and films by themselves every day, and three in ten (30%) say they do so several times a week.

But more than half (55%) of people say they spend too much time watching TV by themselves on their smartphones and tablets. In fact, three in ten (30%) adults in Wales said that at least once a week, members of their family sit in the same room, while watching different programmes on separate screens.

And people are not tied to the TV in the living room, as half of viewing takes place in the bedroom, on holiday (17%), while commuting (16%) or even in the bathroom (9%).

Rhodri Williams, Wales Director at Ofcom said: “People in Wales are taking advantage of TV technology, and enjoying the freedom to watch whatever and whenever they like. For some, this means regularly enjoying multiple episodes of a TV series around the house or on the move.

“But live television still has a special draw and remains an integral part of family life, with families regularly coming together to share programmes or films.”

The power of live TV

Despite the growing popularity of streaming technology, live TV is still the first choice for people in Wales for news. More than six in ten (62%) say they use it to keep up with the news and what is happening around them.

And, family viewing remains an integral part of Welsh life. Two thirds (66%) of people in Wales agree that watching TV helps bring the family together for a shared experience.

66% of adults in Wales agree that watching TV programmes/films brings the family together

Seven in ten (70%) said that members of their family come together every week to watch something together, and just over three in ten (31%) said their family comes together every day.

Wales’ match against Belgium in the Euro 2016 football tournament was watched by 37.6% of the Welsh population, with an audience of just over a million. The post-match analysis of this game was the most popular programme of the year, with an audience of 1.2 million.

A nation of avid listeners

As well as watching more TV than the rest of the UK, people in Wales also listen to more radio than elsewhere. More than nine in ten (91.6%) adults in Wales listen to the radio, and people have also upped their listening time by over a million hours collectively in the last year.

Listeners in Wales also tune in for longer than the UK as a whole – listening to 22.7 hours in an average week, compared to the 21.4 hours across the whole UK.

Digital radio on the up

Fifty-eight per cent of adults in Wales own a digital radio set (DAB), more than in either Scotland or Northern Ireland. Growth in digital radio ownership was greater in Wales than in the other UK nations, increasing by 8pp between 2015 and 2016.

DAB services from the BBC are available to 92% of households in Wales with coverage from Digital One, one of the UK-wide commercial multiplexes to 67% of households in Wales. Coverage of local DAB in Wales is 86% of households.



Elinor Williams
07881 987 188