Ofcom has published its latest snapshot of British viewing habits, charting the rise of ‘binge’ watching which now sees 40 million people regularly watch multiple series episodes one after the other rather than sit patiently for weekly installments.
The Communications Market Report 2017 labels the country as ‘Box Set Britain’ with 79% of UK adults taking advantage of catch-up services to get their television fix, with 35% making a habit of this every week and 55% doing so on a monthly basis.
Quizzed as to why they were adopting this behavior 70% replied that they found it relaxing and enjoyable while 24% did so to remain in the loop while chatting with friends and colleagues. Acknowledging that there was a downside to this way of watching however 32% admitted their addiction had cost them sleep.
This growth has been fueled by the rise of popular streaming services with BBC iPlayer topping the charts as the most utilized with 63% of adults logging in, beating ITV Hub (40%); YouTube (38%) and Netflix (31%).
Lindsey Fussell, consumer group director at Ofcom, commented: “Technology has revolutionised the way we watch TV. 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.”
Beneath these broad trends Ofcom did observe an age gap between young and old, with the former far more likely than their peers to dabble with streaming content.
Intriguingly Netflix published its own research indicating that not all content is created equal when it comes to binge viewing with consumers taking an average of four days to rattle through Breaking bad or The Walking Dead while political dramas such as House of Cards take six days.