Wales becomes a nation of streamers

07 August 2019

  • Almost half of homes in Wales now take Netflix, Amazon, Now TV or Disney Life
  • Traditional broadcast TV viewing down by nearly an hour per day since 2010
  • But traditional viewing still makes up the bulk of our TV screen time, and remains the “go to” place for news and sport

Almost half of homes in Wales now subscribe to TV streaming services, according to a major Ofcom report revealing rapid shifts in our viewing habits.

The number of households in Wales signed up to a least one of the main UK subscription streaming platforms – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and Disney Life - increased from 515,000 (38.1%) in 2018 to 625,000 (45.8%) in 2019. As with the rest of the UK, Netflix is the most popular with 40% of homes in Wales now signed up.

While traditional TV still accounts for most TV time in Wales (80%) and remains the most popular place for people to keep up with the latest news and sport, viewing continued to decline.

In 2018, Welsh viewers spent an average of three hours and 33 minutes on a day watching broadcast  TV – nine minutes less than in 2017.

The decline is even steeper among children and younger viewers in Wales. In 2018, youngsters aged 16-24 watched one hour and 15 minutes of broadcast TV a day, down by two hours a day from 2010 (-61%). This is a steeper decline than the UK average of -49% for this age group.

However, viewing to other services on the TV set – such as streaming services or and gaming increased by 10 minutes to an average of 54 minutes per person per day in 2018.

The findings are from Ofcom’s Media Nations: Wales 2019 report (PDF, 4.4 MB), a comprehensive study of major trends in television, radio and audio, published today.

TV is still the “go to” place for news and sport

Despite the rise in online viewing, television remains the most-used platform for news by people in Wales. Television channels make up four of the top ten most-used news sources in 2019, with BBC One and ITV Wales being the most popular overall.

Social media sites are also highly used for news in Wales; almost four in ten (38%) of people now say they use Facebook for news, while Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram also appear in the top 20 most-used news sources.

Top 20 sources of news in general in Wales: 2019

BBC One was the top source of news for Wales in 2018 (57%), but Facebook isn't too far behind (38%).

Small Screen: Big Debate

Small Screen: Big Debate logoToday’s findings underpin Ofcom’s recently-launched national debate on the future of public service broadcasting – Small Screen: Big Debate.

This broad debate will involve broadcasters, production companies, governments, Parliaments, industry bodies, viewers’ groups and national and regional representatives on the wider questions around the future of public service media. Ofcom is playing a central role in driving this debate, drawing on a range of views, evidence and research.

By the end of the year, we will publish our assessment of the state of public service broadcasting, identifying areas of risk and potential opportunities.

Eleanor Marks, Director of Ofcom Wales, said: “The way we watch TV is changing faster than ever before. In the space of seven years, streaming services have grown from nothing to reach almost half of homes in Wales.

“But traditional broadcasters still have a vital role to play – particularly providing quality, trusted news for people in Wales.  We want to sustain that content for future generations, so we’re leading a nationwide debate on the future of public service broadcasting.”

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Television is the most-used platform for news consumption for people in Wales, with BBC One and ITV Cymru Wales coming first and second in the top 20 list of most-used news sources.
  • Nearly three-quarters of PSB viewers in Wales were satisfied with PSB provision in 2018.
  • BBC and ITV Wales’ combined spend on programming for Wales increased by 13% in 2018 to £33.6m. Spend on current affairs programming was £4.4m, down from £4.6m the previous year; spending on news was stable at £10.5m, while spending on other programming including general entertainment, was 26% higher at £18.7m.
  • S4C’s reach decreased in 2018. In a typical week 300,000 viewers in Wales watched S4C for at least 3 minutes, at 18% lower in 2017.
  • There were 78 radio services broadcasting on DAB in Wales in March 2018 with 92% of DAB   availability in Welsh households. 9 in 10 adults in Wales listened to the radio each week at an average of just over 22 hours, listening for longer than adults in any other of the UK nations.
  • Commercial radio stations have attracted more listeners than BBC Radio over the past year, increasing their reach from 60% to 64% while BBC Radio has dropped from 71% to 68% in the same period.


Figure 1: Top 20 most-watched programmes in Wales: 2018

The opening episode of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! was the most-watched programme in Wales in 2018. It was broadcast on ITV Cymru Wales.

Source: BARB. BBC Wales area, all individuals (4+). Reach criteria: 15+ consecutive minutes, full weeks used. The TVR (television rating) is the measure of the popularity of a programme, daypart, commercial break or advertisement by comparing its audience to the population as a whole. One TVR is numerically equivalent to 1% of a target audience.